In our previous blog post in this series, we learned that Paul listed eight focus points for us to meditate on. We also learned about the definition of meditation, an example of how to do it, and the first focus point listed in Philippians 4:8 , “whatever is true”. However, when we meditate on what is true, should that include ugly truths of what happens in this world? Should we think repetitively about the mistakes others have made or mistakes that we have made? Sometimes we need to think about our current world to remind ourselves how desperately we need God’s Kingdom. Sometimes we should meditate on our mistakes so we don’t repeat them. But there’s more to this subject than just meditating on anything that is true. This is where the next meditation point in Philippians 4:8 , “whatever things are noble,” can help us think about true things that are also noble.
This means that we should think about things that are truthful and deserve respect, things that have integrity, uprightness, and honor.
So, what does “noble” mean? The Amplified Bible defines “noble” as “whatever is honorable and worthy of respect.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines noble as “possessing outstanding qualities.” It is interesting that Paul tells the Philippians to meditate on what is noble immediately after telling them to meditate on the truth. This means that we should think about things that are truthful and deserve respect, things that have integrity, uprightness, and honor.
It can be tricky to figure out how to meditate this way. Consider these ideas:
Meditate on the bravery of Ruby Bridges, the first African-American child to attend William Frantz Elementary School, an all-white school in Louisiana. In 1960, at just six years old, she walked into the segregated school with angry people saying and doing mean things to her. We can focus on her fortitude and bravery when she faced challenging times instead of focusing on those angry, misguided people. Consider how God helps you through challenging times.
Instead of focusing on David’s mistakes during his reign over ancient Israel, meditate on how David pleased God. He bravely faced Goliath, he made many wise decisions during his conflict with King Saul, and he used his talents to compose many hymns to praise God, just to name a few.
Meditate on the examples of people sacrificing to help others after natural disasters and other catastrophes, instead of the awful details of the catastrophe itself. When there are challenging times, look for the helpers—they are everywhere. Think about the courage, strength, and sacrifice they show and how God has given them their abilities to help others.
Sometimes it is important to be aware of some ugly truths of a situation, but we shouldn’t let them take up space in our minds for a long time. If we do, we will focus on the worst of everything rather than what is noble and honorable. This kind of thinking can fill us with anxiety and depression, rather than with hope.
Let’s consider some ways we can think and speak what is noble.
Think what is noble
To think what is noble, try not to:
Spend most of your free time doing activities that allow you to zone out or “live” in a fictitious world. Nothing is wrong with spending some of your time in those activities if your parents allow—we all need time to unwind from the busyness and stresses of the day. What other things can you think of doing to help your family and those around you? Without asking yourself that question and thinking about an answer, you won’t know!
Focus your thoughts on all the wrong things people have done to you or others. Sure, your sister messed up the painting you worked so hard on (and then apologized and tried to fix it). But she has also shared her snack with you and let you use her special pen that she doesn’t let anyone else in the whole world use. Remember that everyone makes mistakes and no one wants to be remembered by their mistakes and shortcomings. Paul tells us in Colossians 3:12-13 to “put on tender mercies…meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another…” When someone has done something wrong to you, you can acknowledge it was wrong and ask God to help you forgive the person. If you’re having trouble forgiving someone, talk to your parents or another trustworthy adult, like your minister.
"Put on tender mercies...meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another..."
To think what is noble, try to:
Think of the bright spots all around us. Meditate on people overcoming challenges or helping others. Look up Nick Vujicic, Bethany Hamilton, Shane Burcaw, Peter Mutabazi, or Malala Yousafzai and learn how they are trying to overcome life’s challenges. Look for the wonderful things happening in your congregation—Hilltop Outreach Program service projects, someone holding the door as people arrive at church, those who help with the sound each Sabbath. Look for the wonderful things happening in your neighborhood and community—boys and girls mowing lawns, someone bringing up the trash can each week for their neighbor, volunteers at a nursing home or soup kitchen. All of those things take time and sacrifice! Let those thoughts lead you so you can overcome challenges and help others.
Think of what it means to live a noble life of integrity and honor. How can a kid live a noble life of integrity and honor? The same way 8-year-old King Josiah did—by obeying God ( 2 Kings 22:2 ). Think about God’s commandments and how you can apply them in your life. Do you struggle with telling the truth when you know you might get in trouble? Is it a challenge to share with your brother or sister? Is working hard something you don’t like to do? You won’t know the answers unless you think about these things!
How can a kid live a noble life of integrity and honor?
Ask your parents or grandparents or grown-up church friends to help you with challenges and help you find scriptures that you can remember to make the right choice in difficult times.
Think about how Jesus Christ lived His life—telling the truth, honoring His Father, being thankful for what He had.
Pray to God to help you live a noble life of integrity and honor.
Spend time thinking on a particular scripture that you want to understand better.
Think about a character trait you want to grow in.
Plan ahead of time how you want to show your parents you love them on their wedding anniversary (or find out their anniversary date!).
Think about how you can help make mornings go more smoothly for your family.
Be thankful in the moment instead—you have food to eat, a bedroom to sleep in, and someone collects your trash so you don’t have to keep it in your house forever. (Imagine how smelly that would be!) Now, this doesn’t mean you never share what is bothering you. It is important to share your struggles with your family so they can help you. We all need help sometimes. But have a goal to feel hopeful rather than frustrated and discouraged.
Speak what is noble
To speak what is noble, try not to:
Complain. Philippians 2:14-15 tells us, “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” At times there will be things you have to do that you don’t want to do—like taking out the garbage or washing dishes or cleaning our rooms. Believe it or not, when you do those things without complaining, your parents notice. Your Father in heaven notices, too ( Psalm 33:13 ). The more you practice not complaining, the better you get at not complaining! When a complaint pops in your mind, check it and ask yourself, “Is this what I want God to notice about me?”It is important to share your struggles with your family so they can help you. We all need help sometimes. But go into the conversation with a goal of feeling hopeful again rather than feeling frustrated and discouraged.
Say mean things about your friends to your other friends. All friendships have trouble at times. We all make mistakes and are learning and growing together. Proverbs 17:9 tells us, “He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or gossips about a matter separates intimate friends” (AMP). If your friend has done something to bother you, go to them to understand what happened. You could say, “I felt sad when you ________, please don’t do that again.” Then give your friend a chance to explain his or her actions. It takes time, patience, understanding, and forgiveness to solve friendship problems, but with God’s help and guidance, a solution is possible!
To speak what is noble, try to:
Talk about your friends, family, teachers, and community members in a noble, honorable way. Did your teacher spend extra time with you helping you to understand the difference between nouns and verbs? Was the cashier at the grocery store extra patient as your family was checking out groceries? Did you see a police officer helping change someone’s flat tire on the side of the road? Did your sister put your bike in the garage before it rained? There is a saying by Andy Gilbert, a Major League Baseball player in the 1940s, that goes, “If you look for problems, you will find problems.” You will find what you are looking for, so look for the positive things happening to you and around you, and then talk about them! Will there be times when things aren’t so good? Should you avoid talking about those things? No! Do talk about them with your family with the goal of figuring out what you can learn from a problem. But overall, remember to talk about others in a noble and honorable way.
Remember to talk about others in a noble and honorable way.
Talk to your friends about ways you can help others. We are to imitate Christ, and He came to earth to serve ( Mark 10:45 ). Paul tells us in Galatians 5:13,“For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another” (AMP). The more you and your friends talk about ways to serve others at church or in your community, the more ideas you will come up with! Use your super spy eyes to look for opportunities to help at church—talk to someone who is sitting alone, offer a hug to an older church member, play with the younger kids so their parents can have an uninterrupted conversation, get to know the kids you don’t usually talk to, make cards for each member of your congregation to tell them what you like about them—the list could go on and on! When you think more about others than yourself, you are building Godly character!
Do what is noble
As we think and speak about truth that is noble, we then use that to guide our actions. Living with noble integrity is being like the Ruby Bridges of the world, not the angry, screaming crowds. Living honorable and noble lives means helping others in need, standing up for people who are being bullied, and treating all people the way we want to be treated ( Luke 6:31 ).
Meditate on what is noble
Meditating on what is noble requires that we think about the positive, uplifting, and encouraging truths all around us more than we think about the depressing, sad truths of the world. Speaking about noble examples leads us and those around us to have more hope. When we do so, we will be shining the light of God that can’t be hidden by darkness.
Further Your Study
In Philippians 4:8 Paul tells us to meditate on eight different characteristics. But what is meditation? Why is it important? And how do we do it? Read More >