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Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9 NIV

As I started another class at Wesley Theological Seminary, I started thinking about all my classes and teachers since embarking on my educational journey at age six. Doing a quick calculation, I estimate I’ve had somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 teachers, not including mentors and other folk who’ve taught me things outside the classroom. Of all those teachers and subjects, I remember only a handful, but those I recall, I do so because what I learned I put into practice.

In the prior verse, Paul begins his list of whatever’s followed by an appeal. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” These were the essential things to dwell on–setting our frame of mind towards godliness.

Paul pleads that whatever of these things they’ve seen evidenced through his teaching and life, they follow his example. As Paul is a follower of Jesus, he desires his readers to follow Jesus in the same way, first, by setting their minds on all those “whatevers” and putting what they’ve learned into practice.

Our relationship with Jesus is personal. Looking at how Jesus, God made flesh, lived gives us a perspective on how we are to live. But there’s a difference between knowing and doing. We must first desire to be like Jesus, rejecting those things that stand in our way and embracing those things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Led by the Holy Spirit—it is only by the Holy Spirit we can do these things—we become obedient practitioners.

Gracious God, thank you for the perfect example of Jesus Christ. We confess we have often failed to pursue the whatevers of righteousness; we’ve settled for the far lesser worldly whatevers: false, base, ugly, worthless, wretched, and vile. Father, forgive us. Help us seek your will and obey the Holy Spirit so that we become practitioners of your righteousness. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Pastor Tim

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