Choosing to Thrive in My Circumstances
Choose What Is Right
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.
There are so many choices, it seems, when it comes to making decisions. Do I do what is popular? Or profitable? Do I take a risk or play it conservative? Do I please myself more than others, or please others to my own detriment? Do I listen to the voice of marketers who are trying to sell me the latest electronic gadget, or am I content with what I have? So many choices, so few clear-cut answers.
Philippians 4:8 gives us a good checklist to go over when making choices. In making a decision, we should ask ourselves the following:
Is it true? One of the Ten Commandments warns against bear false witness. A lie is rewriting history. So is embellishing the truth. Even perception of truth isn’t necessarily true, though it is an important consideration, because people will perceive something as truth. In choosing what is right, the first consideration is, does this decision support truth?
Is it noble? Nobility is something that we are losing in the world today. We are obsessed with control over things. We don’t leave things to chance. We don’t leave enough room for faith. At summer camp, we tell kids to “leave enough room for the Holy Spirit” when they are dancing. But this applies to other situations. Are we leaving enough room for God to work in a circumstance versus controlling it ourselves.
Is it just? Justice is closely tied to fairness, and both of these can be subjective terms. What is just and fair to someone is unjust and unfair to someone else. Perhaps in considering whether something is just or not, we should consider how what we are deciding impacts other people. Using empathy and considering a decision from the point of view of someone else is a good idea.
Is it pure? Purity is something else we don’t consider often enough in the world today. Rather than go for purity, we go for “not very unstained.” We have lowered the bar, so to speak. In making decisions, using purity means holding ourselves to the highest standard, not just doing the minimum.
Is it lovely? Some people think of “lovely” and how something appears. Like, “that’s a lovely dress you are wearing.” In the case of making decisions, choosing according to what is lovely means leading with love. If love is patient and kind, and rejoices in the right (I Corinthians 13), then in choosing what is right based on love, we choose to lead with patience and kindness, as well as optimism.
Is it of good report? Can we speak good to others about what is going on and still be truthful? If we have to alter the report to make it look good, or if we are embarrassed to give a report, we are probably making the wrong choice.
Is it virtuous? This characteristic makes us think of whether what we are doing is worthy of imitation. We imitate the things and the people we feel are virtuous. Virtuous choices are called to be imitated. If one is embarrassed about what they are doing or wouldn’t want to see it imitated by a friend, or their own child, it’s probably not the right thing.
Is it praiseworthy? We shouldn’t be solely motivated by what others might say, but there is nothing wrong with that fitting into the mix when we are making a decision. If we are going to make a decision that is going to scandalize others, perhaps we need to rethink that.
Imagine if you wrote out on a card, these questions:
- Is it true?
- Is it noble?
- Is it just?
- Is it pure?
- Is it lovely?
- Is it of good report?
- Is it virtuous?
- Is it praiseworthy?
Then when it comes time to make a decision, you can take out the card and evaluate the decision according to these eight metrics. If you see one that is a “no”, then it is time reevaluate the decision. If the answer to all eight is yes, we are probably on the right track. It is good to evaluate a decision based on all eight, because perhaps there are decisions that satisfy one or two of these metrics but not all eight. We make many decisions each day. Using these eight metrics to evaluate our decisions will hopefully help us make better, more God-centered ones.
Prayer for Our Decisions
Lord, every day brings with it opportunities and challenges.
Every day also brings blessings, whether I know them or recognize them.
Lord, help me see the blessings each day.
Help me to make the most of the opportunities and to be grateful for them.
And help me in the challenges that I will face, to make good decisions,
to choose what it right by meditating on what is
true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy.
Help me to be honest in my own heart and my own mind
and to run to what is right according to what You think is right. Amen.
Choose what is right, according to the eight metrics described in Philippians 4:8. If what you decide is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy, you’ve probably made the right choice.