(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
In Philippians 4:8 Paul wrote these challenging words:
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 [think] on these things.
This covers a lot of ground – everything that crosses our minds! We must be careful what we allow to enter our minds…….and take up residence there!
In 2001 my wife Hope and I had a house for sale in Charleroi, Pennsylvania. We put it on the market for $39,000 (Remember, this was over twenty years ago!) We had a couple of people who were interested, but then Tom came along! He and his elderly parents liked the house, and they didn’t try to argue down the price! So we designated a closing date about a month away, and all things were set……….I thought!
Tom told us his parents were especially eager to move in, and asked if we might lend them a key so his mom could start cleaning. Having received a cash down-payment, and I, being a trusting person, agreed to the request. I handed over the front door key. After all, Hope and I remembered that someone had given us that grace a few years before!
The lawyer who was handling the closing was Tom’s selection because at that time we did not have local legal representation. But we received a phone call from the lawyer’s office ten days before closing telling us there was a problem getting all the necessary paperwork from the mortgage company. So I agreed that the closing would be pushed back two weeks. About fifteen days later, a second call came from the lawyer delaying closing for another two weeks. This happened a third time, and I began to be suspicious! I had the name of the lawyer, so I called his office and was told, “We have no information on such a closing!” Apparently, Tom was arranging the calls to sound like they were coming from the lawyer’s office! I then called the mortgage company through which Tom said he was arranging financing. I was told they had never heard of Tom, and no mortgage was in the works!
I told my wife what I found out, and we both showed up unannounced at the Charleroi house. What we found shocked us!
- Tom and his parents had moved in ‘lock, stock, and barrel’!
- All the utilities had been transferred to the mom’s name!
- They had even ordered a six month subscription to the local newspaper, to be delivered to the porch of our house each morning!
Hope and I didn’t even knock to announce our arrival! We just walked in! Tom began to make excuses, but I said, “Come on, Hope, let’s go to the police!” Tom protested, and followed us from a distance out to our car. He kept shouting, “Let me explain! We can work this out!” As we pulled away from the curb, he even grabbed the rear fender of the car, as if he was trying to stop us!
We went straight to the Charleroi police department where I knew the chief and some of the officers.
- When we told the chief Tom’s name, he shook his head and said, “There are several warrants out for his arrest!”
- He immediately sent two officers with us back to the house! But by the time we arrived (about 15 minutes after Hope and I had left), Tom was gone, and his mother said she didn’t know where he was or when he would be back!
- The officers said to Tom’s mother, “You and your husband have to leave this house.” She answered, “Well, as soon as my son gets home we will leave.” The officer stated, “No, you have to leave now! I will give you fifteen minutes to vacate the premises! Get what you immediately need, and get out!”
- After the parents left, I profusely thanked the officers. They told me, “We don’t usually evict someone like this. But the chief said so, and we made it happen!”
We later learned that, according to Pennsylvania law, if that ‘squatter’ family had been allowed to stay even one more night after we found them out, they would be considered our tenants, and it would take a costly legal battle perhaps up to six months duration to evict them! But because of quick action by the local police, that process did not take place!
God bless the Charleroi Police Department!
We changed the locks on the house that evening! And the neighbors said they would keep an eye on the place and warn us if anyone came back!
At a later hearing, the local magistrate of Charleroi awarded everything that was abandoned in the house – furnishings, tools, clothing, personal effects – everything! We returned personal papers and photos, but kept, donated, or sold everything else, trying to recoup some of the financial losses that we incurred! We were also awarded a $25,000 judgment against Tom, but we knew we would never collect it.
What has all this to do with Philippians 4:8, our featured Scripture?
- Without realizing it, we allowed an unwanted family to move into our property!
- How often do we allow negative, unclean, and ungodly thoughts to move into our minds?
Philippians 4:8 is an eight-part test to see what should and should not be allowed into our lives!
- “…whatever things are true….” The Greek word is ἀληθής (pronounced al-ay-thace’) meaning “…true (as not concealing).” Strong’s Greek Dictionary.
- “…whatever things are noble….” The King James Version translates noble as honest. The Greek word is σεμνός (pronounced sem-nos’) meaning “…venerable, that is, honorable.” Ibid.
- “…whatever things are just….” The Greek word is δίκαιος (pronounced dik’-ah-yos) meaning “…equitable (in character or act); by implication innocent, holy….” Ibid.
- “…whatever things are pure….” The Greek word is ‘αγνός (pronounced hag-nos’) meaning “…properly clean….” Ibid.
- “…whatever things are lovely….” The Greek word is προσφιλής (pronounced pros-fee-lace’) meaning “…friendly towards, that is, acceptable….” Ibid.
- “…whatever things are of good report….” The Greek word is εὔφημος (pronounced yoo’-fay-mos) meaning “…well spoken of, that is, reputable….” Ibid.
- “…if there is any virtue….” The Greek word is ἀρέτη (pronounced ar-et’-ay) meaning “…manliness (valor), that is, excellence….” Ibid.
- “…if there is anything praiseworthy….” The Greek word is ‘έπαινος (pronounced ep’-ahee-nos) meaning “…laudation; concretely a commendable thing….” Ibid.
Why do I take the time to research the Greek words and their meaning? While some reading this Gem may not be interested, others might be! And it helps me in reviewing my Greek studies.
I think you can see from just the eight characteristic words in Philippians 4:8 that…
- …following the guidelines of this one verse would dramatically change the thinking of those who claim Jesus Christ as their Savior! And if thinking is changed, both words and deeds will be dramatically changed also!
- …allowing our thinking to be guided by these eight things would make sure we would not allow unwanted ‘squatter’ thoughts to come in and take up residence!
You don’t want a ‘Tom and family’ moving uninvited into your house!
So, “…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…”
“…think on these things…”!