There are lots of life lessons out there to learn. And this verse from Paul gives me a checklist:
Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Phil. 4:8)
From my very beginnings more years ago than I care to remember, I received an Adventist education, and it started long before the first time I stepped into the local church school.
Before my sister and I were old enough for “real” school, we had our own little desks in a corner of the house and we would have school for an hour or so each day with Mom the Schoolmaster. We’d salute the flag, say the pledge of allegiance, sing Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us, and do simple math problems, color, or listen to stories about Curious George, Uncle Wiggly, Squanto or David and Goliath. And we loved it, because it made us feel like the BIG kids down the street.
Parents, never underestimate the time that you spend with your kids, or the influence you have on the decisions they make. Teachers at school spend a lot of time with your children, but the influence of a Godly Christian home and family is beyond value.
Education may take place in our schools, but never forget that it starts in my home, and in yours. So what are some of these lessons we can learn?
Whatsoever things are TRUE, whatsoever things are HONEST
Lesson here is that the choices we make, whether good ones or bad ones, affect other people. When we choose to deceive someone else, whether it be the teacher, “The dog ate my homework” or the government, “Yes, I’m entitled to that tax deduction (as long as I don’t get audited)” we are changing the lives of other people in ways that we may never know. When you think on these things, whatever they may be, make sure that they are TRUE and HONEST. As Mark Twain once said, “Always tell the truth. That way you don’t have to remember what you said.”
Whatsoever things are JUST
Solomon tells us that a just man knows what to say, and what not to say. Those who are just, understand how to be fair and do what is right for the sake of others. A true and just friend overlooks the times when they have been inconvenienced by YOU! Because, face it, that’s what friends do. If we are just, we will serve as an example, or as Proverbs puts it, “a shining light” to the people we live and work with. No wonder Solomon says that when just men increase, the people rejoice.
When I see a second grader sharing their lunch with a classmate who forgot theirs, that’s being just. When I see dozens of volunteers giving up their free time to mow lawns, paint gym walls, coach sports, or teach reading, that too is being “just”, for the sake of a friend. Doing stuff for others – and for FREE – really helps us to understand what is right, and just, and fair.
Whatsoever things are PURE
We live in a world where puri-ty is little more than a throwback to the days of the Puri-tans; a word to be laughed at when checking out the ratings on the latest blockbuster from Hollywood. And yet God instructs us to think on things that are PURE – does that mean wearing a paper bag on our head when we walk past the tabloids at the supermarket checkout stand? Probably not, but neither do we need to intentionally expose ourselves and our children to the glamorization of sex and violence that we are bombarded with every day.
Whatsoever things are LOVELY
Although I have been a baseball coach, most of the team would guess correctly that I wasn’t much of an athlete in grade school, no matter how hard I tried. I was overweight, I wore bifocals, and I was absolute proof that white men can’t jump. When it came time for choosing up softball teams, I would count ahead to see who would get the last guy picked, and just kinda walk over to that side ahead of time. I was pretty good at math, at least! You might say that I was the designated LPC – Last Player Chosen!
But there were times when I’d catch the ball out in right field. Or beat out a dribbler down the line. Even when I did, it was temporary, as most things in life turn out to be. But for the moment I would be thinking some really LOVELY thoughts.
But that’s not the point I’m trying to make here. Have you ever noticed how lovely the word “success” is? Everybody needs a chance to be successful, and that includes adults, children, and teenagers alike. Especially our teenagers. In a world where the media idolizes perfect smiles, perfect bodies, perfect athletes, and perfect politicians, (sorry, just threw that last one in there to see if you were paying attention!) our teenagers find it nigh to impossible to measure up to what they think is expected of them.
So give them an honest chance to participate, to help be leaders in your world and in your church. Work with them and let them work with you. They’ll get there! And if that’s not a lovely thought to think on, I don’t know what is…
Whatsoever things are of GOOD REPORT
Four times a year, our students travel home and hear what may be seven of the scariest words in a kid’s vocabulary: Did – you – get – a – good – report – card? For many of our students, the answer will be a yes, (or at least a qualified yes!) because students at Midland and other Adventist schools consistently score higher in placement tests than the surrounding public schools. Now that may be helped by our smaller class sizes and by our good teachers, but I’m sure that God blesses our SDA schools and our students in a special way.
If there be any VIRTUE, if there be any PRAISE
We come now to the end of the road – thinking about praise. And that’s something that all of us enjoy, sometimes a little too much! As we talked about earlier, everyone enjoys success, but success without a l-i-t-t-l-e bit of praise thrown in wouldn’t be quite as satisfying.
So here’s a question for you. Are most of your prayers just shopping lists for God to fill, or do they actually contain some praise to God for all He’s done for you over the years? I know I tend to fall into the rut of “take care of Rindy and Chris in Arkansas, and help Beckie to get some good pictures. Be with Christopher at the hospital and may his patients sleep peacefully. Help me to figure out the problems I’m having with the website for Midland. Thank you that Darlene has a good job at a great school, and help things to go smoothly for her and Mr. Murphy all day.”
Let’s see; that’s five requests and one small thanks thrown in for good measure. You know, if that was all the praise I ever got I’d begin to wonder if what I was doing was worth it! So – the next time you pray, give God some of that praise He so richly deserves.
Then go and keep thinking on all these good things! - Dave Fairchild