We've spent the past several weeks taking this verse apart, almost word for word. Have you noticed how the ideas build on each other? If you don't know what's true, then how will you know what's honorable? If you aren't thinking of things that are pure, will you notice the things that are excellent?
While we've taken the time to focus on each word, I don't think Paul ever intended for this to be an exhaustive list. He pointed out the biggies, and then threw in a catch all . . . if there's anything worthy of praise, think about that stuff, too. (Lynn's paraphrase!)
I don't think he wanted to constrain our thinking. I think he wanted to encourage us to open our minds to all that is wonderful and good in this world.
We don't need help seeing the bad stuff.
But somehow, especially in our comfortable American culture, we struggle to see the good.
Our minds are so busy, so hectic, so anxious - so oblivious.
There is a whole world of wonder out there. Children see it. They ooh and aah over spider webs, flowers, rocks, dirt, and chipmunks.
But grownups are too busy for that nonsense.
The Greek for "anything worthy of praise" is "Epainos" and it means "approbation, commendation, praise" and carries the idea of "applause." It can be used to describe praise of men to God, praise of men to men, praise of God to men (think about that for a minute and try not to get goosebumps) and is used to describe things that deserve to be praised.
Could he have left it any more wide-open?
Cheer for your favorite team. Clap after your favorite little person's recital. Go crazy when your tiny martial artist earns a new belt.
Marvel at the intricate network of purple-blue veins running beneath the clear skin of a newborn. Relish the softness of your favorite blanket. Inhale the French roast or the Earl Grey.
Open your mind.
And as you start to think about all the things that are worthy of praise, don't be surprised when your thoughts turn to praising the One who is Worthy.