Meditate on These Things: “If There Is Anything Praiseworthy”
The final meditation point Paul lists in Philippians 4:8 is things worthy of praise. What is praiseworthy? Why is this a fitting end to Paul’s list?
As we come to the final blog post of this series, we hope that these posts have helped you learn more about how God wants you to think. So far, we’ve covered the first seven points of Philippians 4:8.
- Things that are true.
- Things that are noble.
- Things that are just.
- Things that are pure.
- Things that are lovely.
- Things that are of a good report.
- Things that are virtuous.
Paul ends the list with an encouragement to meditate on “anything praiseworthy.”
This is somewhat of a summary concept that encapsulates all the previous points. “Anything praiseworthy” highlights what should be praised and recognized in our mind.
What does praiseworthy mean?
Thayer’s and Strong’s describe the Greek word translated “praiseworthy” this way: approbation, a commendable thing, laudation or commendation.
So, Paul suggests that we focus on things that are commendable and warrant thanksgiving. Think of when someone is rewarded for something or given a standing ovation—he or she is being thanked and recognized for something good.
When looking at the other concepts that have been covered in Philippians 4:8, it is easy to see how praise is a fitting end to what will be beneficial to have swirling around in our minds at any given time:
- We can be thankful for God’s truth and for when others stand up for what is true.
- We can praise the noble and honorable words and actions of God and others.
We can thank God for all the lovely things of this life and, especially, for the things God has promised for the future.We can give thanks for justice being done and for God’s definition of what is just.
- We can offer praise for God’s standard of purity and honor those who strive to live up to it.
- We can thank God for all the lovely things of this life and, especially, for the things God has promised for the future.
- We can praise God for the ultimate “good report”—the good news of the coming Kingdom of God.
- We can be thankful for Jesus Christ’s virtuous example, which helps show us the way we can be virtuous ourselves.
The verses immediately preceding this list of meditation topics indicate how praise and thanksgiving should also be an integral part of our meditation and prayers to God. “But in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (verse 6).
Meditating on what is praiseworthy is giving thanks to God for good things and recognizing that there are commendable and laudable people, ideas, events and actions happening all around us, all the time. The only problem is that they are also happening at the same time as some of the most depressing, anxiety-producing and horrific things imaginable. Sadly, the latter tends to drown out the former.
What will we choose to meditate, or focus, upon?
1. Thinking what is praiseworthy
To think what is praiseworthy, strive to avoid:
- The laundry list of how things aren’t going right, how everything is terrible, how we are on the brink of self-annihilation, how awful people are, etc. This all may be true to one degree or another, but what is the benefit of allowing these things to live rent-free in our head hour after hour? If we are trying to do all things without complaining (Philippians 2:14), and if God expects us to be cheerful (Romans 12:8), then it is counterproductive to focus primarily on the cacophony of evil in this world.
The more thankful we are, the more we will prioritize the positive in our thinking, rather than “woe is me” and “woe is you” thinking.
- Focusing on good old No. 1. The more we think about ourselves, the more we are tempted to fall into self-centered thinking. This could lead us either to praise ourselves through self-delusion and arrogance or to tear ourselves down in self-degradation, thinking that nothing we do is worthy of any commendation.
The simple—but incredibly hard—solution is to be more focused on others than on ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Self-seeking brings unrighteousness and punishment (Romans 2:8). Avoiding self-centeredness helps us focus on what is truly praiseworthy and improves our overall spiritual health.
To think what is praiseworthy, strive to embrace:
- The miraculous and amazing blessings of God. A major key to meditating on what is praiseworthy is focusing on the benevolent and generous blessings from our Creator—both physical and spiritual. A large percentage of the Bible focuses on describing and offering thankfulness for God’s many blessings.
One of the best examples is
Embrace thanking God for all He is and all He does. By doing this, we’ll always find something praiseworthy in a world full of things unworthy of praise. For more insight on the importance of this, read “Praise God” and “Prayers of Praise.”
- The good in life. Because God is worthy of praise and involved in our lives, there are various aspects of life that are praiseworthy. Christ came so that we can live abundant lives (John 10:10).
We can specifically give thanks and praise to God for the praiseworthy things in life. Things like a hug from a grandchild, a walk through a beautiful garden of flowers, siblings playing together peacefully, the laughter and joy from a group of friends catching up with each other, etc. There is so much joy and beauty in the world to thank God for.
We should search for it and meditate on it.
- How God works in our individual lives. We all face our own unique experiences and trials. No one enjoys trials, but we can focus on the truth that God is working out a greater eternal purpose in us despite our trials (Romans 8:28). He uses trials to help us grow spiritually, to teach us humility and to help us grow in empathy for others.
Understanding that God is working in our lives, even through hardships and trials, is certainly praiseworthy.
For more insights on trials, read “Seven Keys to Coping With the Trials and Tribulations of Life” and “What Is the Meaning of Romans 8:28?”
2. Speaking what is praiseworthy
To speak what is praiseworthy, avoid:
- Rants that offer no solutions and only seek to vent anger. There are things to be angry about, but it should be expressed in productive ways—not just to release steam. It can be tempting to get into useless arguments (Titus 3:9) that give us about as much peace as picking up a wild animal by the ears (Proverbs 26:17).
If we do find ourselves in a respectful conversational debate, we need to follow rules of courtesy, not falling into a free-for-all of arguing, interrupting and ad hominem attacks. Angry ranting causes and promotes outbursts of wrath, which the Bible labels a work of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). We should strive to avoid useless and anger-filled arguments and instead focus on things that are truly praiseworthy.
To learn more about this issue, read “Overcoming Dangerous Emotions: Anger.”
- Self-delusion, self-righteousness and self-centeredness. If we do things that are worthy of praise, let God and others say so (Proverbs 27:2). If we are seeking praise for ourselves, we are going to live in constant disappointment when it doesn’t come. Just as we are to avoid constantly thinking of only ourselves, we should also avoid constantly talking about ourselves, or elevating our opinion into something that it isn’t.
To speak what is praiseworthy, embrace:
- Saying thank you—sincerely and often. Marriage counselors often implore couples dealing with marriage problems to say thank you to each other more often. It is also helpful to try to regularly express thanks to people we encounter and work with. Not only is it good for our attitude, but it builds and strengthens our relationships. Thankfulness builds connection, empathy and an overall kinder society—which is why Paul encourages us to give thanks “in everything” and even says it is God’s will that we do so (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
- Giving genuine compliments to encourage and inspire others. Flattery is insincere and problematic, but sincere compliments can be extremely encouraging and edifying (Romans 14:19). We can always find what is wrong and flawed in others (that’s easy). But a Christian should put in the work to genuinely seek things that are “praiseworthy” in others and then verbally recognize them. Take time to actively look for others’ strengths and let them know when we discover them.
Yes, there is a time when constructive criticism is necessary, but it should be rare and less frequent than sincere compliments. A good question to consider in our interactions with others is, Are we telling others every little thing wrong with them, without ever telling them what they are doing well?
For more insight, read “How to Show Appreciation.”
Do what is worthy of praise
God always does what is worthy of praise, so what would happen if we tried to do that too? If we do and think what is true, noble, just, pure and lovely—and if we have a good reputation and demonstrate integrity and virtue—we will be living a praiseworthy life.
If we think and live this way, we will receive the most important commendation that anyone can receive from God Himself: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 23).
Meditate on what is praiseworthy
We should deeply meditate on our blessings and regularly spend time thanking and praising God for His blessings and His way of life. Be thankful for praiseworthy things like truth, nobility, justice, purity, loveliness, good reports and virtue.
Have you thanked God for these things lately?