Whatever is Pure…
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” Philippians 4:8
I’ve heard Philippians 4:8 my entire life. When presented within church circles or wedding ceremonies, it is sometimes presented as a positive, warm fuzzy kind of verse. After all, Paul encourages the believers at Philippi to dwell on the positive attributes of honor, purity, love, etc. You’ve got to hand it to Paul for reminding the early church to uphold the highest levels of character and integrity.
But I fear that we often quote this verse with warm fuzzies, forgetting that the core of Paul’s advice is about sin. After all, if you’re not honorable, loving, truthful, and pure, then think about the type of person you’ve become. Do you really want people to identify you as the individual who is untruthful, unkind, and exposing radically impure thoughts and behaviors? I’d venture to bet that we’d all be quick to respond, “NO, that’s not the type of person I want to be!”
So if we want to follow Paul’s advice, exhibiting the positive traits detailed in this verse, then I think we have to start at the “purity” part. The word “purity” is often associated with sexual purity, but purity refers to lots of different things outside of sexual decisions.
The Scriptures encourage us to have pure thoughts, pure intentions, pure behaviors, and pure motivations. This means that we have to be willing to say, “I’m a sinner, and it’s not in my natural nature to be true, honorable, or kind, but with Christ in me, I can grow more and more in that direction.” When we accept Christ as Savior, he replaces our sinful nature with his pure and loving nature, inspiring us to say, “I want to be like Him.”
Stop and think about the purity of your intentions, behaviors, and motivations. Are you walking so closely with Christ that the words you speak, the thoughts you share, and the behaviors you exhibit cause people to say, “That truly is a man or woman of Christ?” If not, then why not? We only grow into these beautiful characteristics by walking closer and closer to the Lord. Remember that Christians are not called to daily perfection, but rather, we’re called to imitate Christ. Christ makes us pure, but our sinful nature can still rage if we are not in step with Him daily. Make it a point in 2014 to pursue purity in Christ, and the honor, kindness, and justice parts will follow.