Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A Beautiful Mind (2)

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8 TNIV)
Think about whatever is noble.

Noble? Funny, I thought that word was nearly extinct. Don’t laugh. When was the last time you saw something “noble” fly by?

But “the noble” must never be allowed to die out! Being an endangered species, it must be protected by Christians, raised in greater numbers and re-introduced again and again into the wild.

However, since we may not have seen “noble” things in the wild very often, we may need to carry a handbook along with us in order to recognize a “noble” when we see one. Let's study the word a bit and try to picture what truly noble thinking looks like.

The Greek word (semnos) that's translated “noble” here in Philippians 4:8 is very rarely seen in the New Testament. In fact, it's been sighted only three other times and all of them in Paul's letters (1 Timothy 3:8,11 & Titus 2:2) and is translated as “worthy of respect” by the NIV in all three of those passages.

Commenting on this word's usage outside of the New Testament, Gerald Hawthorne, a scholar with a special level of expertise in the Greek language and also the book of Philippians has said:
". . . it is often associated with gods and temples and holy things, it . . . includes ideas of majesty, dignity and awe. . . . It refers to lofty things, majestic things, things that lift the mind from the cheap and tawdry to that which is noble and good and of moral worth."
So what does a noble thought look like? Someone has described it quite well:
“It looks like a man moving through the world as if it were the temple of God.”
Mark Altrogge wrote the beautiful words and music to the song I Stand in Awe. The song is about someone having seen God seated on his throne in heaven. The person is overwhelmed and we're allowed to overhear their inner thoughts - noble thoughts.
You are beautiful beyond description,
Too marvelous for words,
Too wonderful for comprehension,
Like nothing ever seen or heard.

Who can grasp Your infinite wisdom,
Who can fathom the depth of Your love?
You are beautiful beyond description,
Majesty enthroned above.

And I stand, I stand in awe of You,
I stand, I stand in awe of You;
Holy God, to whom all praise is due,
I stand in awe of You.
We commonly sing that song, as we say, “in church.” And it may be a bit easier to sing those words while together in church with other believers, but to think about whatever is noble is to deliberately take the spirit expressed in that song with us when we “leave church,” and to live lives of reverence out in the wilds of this world. To think of noble things is to live our life each day always in awe of Him. It is to walk as if ever walking on holy ground. To talk as if ever speaking in His presence. To think as if He were overhearing our thoughts. It is to live as if we were ever alive to His nearness and holiness.
“. . . whatever is noble . . . think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8 TNIV)
Holy Father, You alone are worthy of all praise. Help me to praise You with the way I live. Help me to sense Your presence and so be humbled to walk through this world with reverence. May I not fly through this life casting hardly a glance upward to You. For the earth, and all that is, is Yours. And so may I be Yours, too, nobly so. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.