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What does it mean for something to be of good report (Philippians 4:8)?

whatever is of good report

The apostle Paul closes his letter to the church in Philippi with exceedingly valuable advice (see Philippians 4:4–9). He presents a two-step plan for dealing with anxiety and worry and protecting our hearts and minds with God’s peace. The first step is prayer. We must take every fear, doubt, and concern to the Lord, tell Him what we need, and thank Him for all He has done (verses 6–7). The second step is to elevate our thoughts: “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” (Philippians 4:8, NKJV).

Paul recognized the direct influence our thoughts have on our spiritual well-being. Among the virtues he prescribed for right thinking is the instruction to meditate on things “of good report.” In other Bible translations, the original adjective here is translated as “commendable” (ESV, CSB) and “admirable” (NIV, NLT).

Meditating on things that are of good report involves filling our minds with praiseworthy thoughts. For believers, this includes dwelling on positive things, behaviors, attitudes, and actions we can perform to protect our reputation, develop our integrity, and bring about a good report from family, friends, and others in our community. We might ponder this question: How can I build godly character in my life and reflect the Lord’s goodness and glory to others? One commentator suggests that thinking about something of good report means focusing on “what is kind and likely to win people, and avoiding what is likely to give offense” (O’Brien, P. T., The Epistle to the Philippians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary, Eerdmans, 1991, p. 505).

Paul often meditated on things of good report: “For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better” (Philippians 1:20–21, NLT). The apostle’s thoughts were trained on moral and spiritual worthiness both in his own life and when he considered others: “As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3, NLT).

Paul praised the praiseworthy: “I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people” (Philemon 1:4–6 (NLT). He admired the admirable: “We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people” (Colossians 1:3–4, NLT). He commended the commendable: “The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you” (2 Corinthians 3:2, NLT).

Paul urged the Philippians, “Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ” (Philippians 1:27, NLT). He exhorted the Ephesians “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1–3, ESV). If we spend time thinking about things worthy of praise and a good reputation, we are less likely to stumble into areas of danger, doubt, and fear. If our thoughts are fixed on God, He will keep us in His perfect peace (see Philippians 4:9; Isaiah 26:3; Colossians 3:15; John 14:27).

The most influential sermon we will ever preach to onlooking unbelievers may not be one of words. It might simply be the quiet testimony of a consistent Christian life shining forth the grace, truth, and love of Jesus Christ. Are we walking in a praiseworthy, admirable, and commendable manner? Is our life a letter of good report? If not, perhaps we need to check our thinking.

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What does it mean for something to be of good report (Philippians 4:8)?
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This page last updated: August 23, 2023