“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
Paul has a great way of addressing his readers. Beloved!
One of the trade-offs we often overlook in the maturation process is our loss of innocence. It is an essential part of becoming an adult in some sense. If we went through life with the same naive positivism we had as children, then we would likely be prone to being taken advantage of. We often do well in our skepticism, and we sleep well at night, wrapped in the warm blanket of cynicism that insulates us from the cold of a world filled with possible betrayers masquerading as friends.
Paul encourages us to be open to another way. We can remember a time when we were absolutely sure that there was truth, honor, justice, and purity. Halfway through the verse, he introduces a concept that we are far more familiar with: the ever-present “if”. We know that there is an “if” hanging out there just beyond the wounded part of our experience. If there is excellence... If there is something... anything you can think of that is worthy of praise... positive to think about... to say to someone you love, to encourage a stranger... do that, and share your belovedness with the world. The good news of the gospel is the satisfaction of the ever-present “if”. It is the antithesis of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow". The gospel says, "Yes, you are beloved, here, now, and so is the person standing beside you. Tell them so today."
Almighty Father, you called your own beloved Son to suffer with us. Grant us hope enough to find the good news in the belovedness of your creation, heart enough to realize our own beloved nature, and courage enough to suffer with your people in this life, and in the age to come grace enough to know it was all worth it. Amen.