“Awesome!” has become a modern catchword for any small bit of news that makes the hearer glad. But it once took grandeur and majesty to inspire awe.
The Christian rejects the jaded, cynical turn that finds everything awesome and nothing awe-some. For he thinks on “whatever is honorable” (Philippians 4:8).
The quality of honorable has to do with the royal and the divine. What is majestic, grandiose, serious. What has dignity and respectability. What would inspire our awe, as a royal cortege or palace.
But to concentrate on the honorable, a Christian first has to get over these cultural hurdles:
– Superficiality. Not only is beauty skin deep, and showing more of it, but the newsbite has swallowed the pondered meditation.
– Levity. Nobody knows how to get serious anymore. Even the movies are satire and not comedy. Irreverence is a virtue. The phrase of the century: “I was just kidding!”
– Informality. Today, it’s the tennis shoe or the flip-flop, not the dress shoe. Informal, laid-back attitudes indicate a lack of seriousness. Clothes don’t make the man, but they give a good indication of his spirit.
– Brutishness or, in its wider sense, bestiality. Perhaps from the influence of evolution theory, man takes the level of the animal. Some years ago, a commercial in Brazil touted the prowess of a soccer player by calling him “animal.” A light-hearted address common today in Brazil is to call someone “beast.” It seems the beauty has not tamed the beast; rather, the beast has coarsened the beauty.
Our word “honorable” in Philippians 4:8 occurs in adjective or noun form in 1 Timothy (2:2; 3:4, 8, 11) and Titus (2:3, 7). It characterizes life in Christ, as good citizens who pray for effective government so they may live in dedication to God, as bishops who rule well their children, as deacons and wives, older women and young evangelists, who show by their demeanor the reverence, respect, dignity of the Christ and of the Sovereign of the Universe.
Such seriousness is shown by the Bereans in Acts 17:11, who in nobility of spirit search the Scriptures daily to verify the message they were hearing. Though the word “noble” here is different than our word in Philippians 4:8, the idea is the same. They showed a superior attitude than the Thessalonians. Their seriousness caught Luke’s attention and garnered his praise.
Watch how a royal person bears himself. Usually, the quiet dignity of his position demonstrates the seriousness with which he takes his responsibilities. He speaks conscious of the weight of his words. His every action is measured, his passions restrained not only by careful instruction, but by an awareness of belonging to a great line of blue-blooded forebears.
If I have idealized human royalty, I may be excused for already thinking of the children of God, who reign with their heavenly Father, share his divine nature, and think constantly of his many qualities that constitute everything that is honorable.
For when we think of the only true and living God, we are most certainly considering all that is honorable.
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