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.“
We have the awesome power to make or break someone simply by the words we use. Consider, if you will, how a simple complement will improve someone’s day, while the criticism will cause great distress. The simple acknowledgement, the word of praise, and give someone hope and joy.
The big problem, we are surrounded by negativity. Bad news sells and gets ratings, good news goes by the wayside. Because of our sinful nature, we seek to control, to be on top, to have the last word rather than letting our speech uplift another. It is easy to build ourselves up by speaking against the accomplishments of someone else, by minimizing their work, their efforts.
Accomplishments are not a zero sum proposition, however. Unless we are competing in some sort of contest where there can only be one winner, your accomplishments do not diminish mine. Your success does not take away my ability to succeed.
How we speak to others, how we look at their accomplishments, reflects how we look at the gifts of salvation which we have received. How we speak, how we act towards each other, is a result of how we look at the world. If our focus is on the negative, on the death, disease, and destruction wrought by sin, then our words will destroy.
John Chrysostom, an early Church father who died in 407, was noted for his eloquent speaking. Chrysostom may be translated to mean “golden-mouthed,” showing his skill at preaching. He wrote, “‘Whatever is lovable’ refers to what is lovable to the faithful, lovable to God. ‘Whatever is true’ refers to that which is virtuous. For what is really true is virtue.Vice is falsehood — its pleasure is false, its glory is false, and everything in it is false. Whatever is pure is the contrary of ‘thinking earthly thoughts.’ ‘Whatever is honorable’ is the contrary of those ‘whose god is their belly'”
Thus Paul encourages us to first set our eyes on that which is true and noble, that being Christ Jesus, the Word made flesh. As we look at the world, as we look at each other understanding that each person is special, important enough for Christ’s death, then we seek to build up. We truly can be of gentle speech, helping rather than hurting.
As we respect each other as ones redeemed by Christ Jesus, we come to understand that we are truly saved by grace alone. We proclaim that grace, and the results of that grace, to each other.
May our Lord continue to bless you with the assurance of His love as we are allowed to help our neighbors in thought, word, and deed