Anything Excellent and Worthy of Praise
“I am more worried about being a good person than being the best football player in the world.” – Lionel Messi. It is a sweet sentiment from one of soccer’s most legendary athletes, but what does it mean to be good or to have moral excellence? The Greek word used for excellence in Philippians 4:8 is used to describe virtue that is found from within. The world would say this means that strength and excellence come from the physical person: that they have the power to produce good. This statement is wrong because Mark 10:18 says that only God alone can be good. When a person is baptized and abides with God they have God’s goodness inside them. Meaning that in Philippians 4:8 when Paul says to meditate on the excellence that comes from within, he is saying to mediate on God.
If being good means you abiding with God, does this mean that you will gain entrance to Heaven just by being good and doing good? The answer to that is no! A person cannot abide with God if they have not been baptized, because baptism is when a person chooses to walk with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). After baptism, the person needs to obey God with all their heart (Matthew 28:19-20). The sentiment of obeying God with all your heart is further seen in the example of the young rich man in Matthew 19. Even though the young rich man was a good person by obeying the commandments that Jesus teaches, the rich man would not enter the kingdom of God because his possessions meant more to his heart than truly following Christ (Matthew 19:21-22).
Abiding in God requires a full understanding to the motivations behind your actions. As 1 John 4:8 states,” God is love” and 1 Corinthians 13 explains that amazing things can be done, but if they are not done with love they are nothing. If actions are not done with a loving reverence for God it is like not doing them at all. Prayer is one of the most powerful tools to keep the heart centered on God. Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane prayed to God for strength so that His focus remained on fulfilling God’s glorious plan, instead of being focused on the trial it entailed. Paul and the apostles would pray and sing hymns to God in prison for strength and to spread God’s gospel. Psalm 42 is a great example of how turning to God and giving Him our tense emotions can restore our minds on the hope He gives.
Lionel Messi has also said, “You can overcome anything, if and only if you love something enough.” The only way this statement becomes true is when “something” is replaced by God. Paul says to consistently practice Godliness because that is when it will become habit. When Godliness becomes habit it will become your character. Finally, when Godliness is your character it will become your destiny (inspired by Lao Tzu). Will God and Heaven become your destiny?
Inspired by: Philippians 4:8-9; Colossians 3:10-17; Acts 16:25; Matthew 26:36-46; Psalm 42; 1 John 4:8, 13-21; 1 Corinthians 13; Mark 10:18; John 6:22-59; Matthew 19:16-22; 2 Peter 1:3; Acts 2:38