Every week, we will feature a Bible word study from Professor Skip Moen's Today's Word. Start understanding scripture from its Hebraic roots and view God's Word in a way you never have before.
Prof. Skip Moen, D.Phil.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever islovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8 NASB
Good repute – The rumor mill. What a dangerous and sinful trap that is! If we just paid attention to Paul’s use of euphemos, we would stay far away from this detour on the highway to heaven. Euphema is literally “good saying, good fame, well spoken of.” It is the opposite of those rumors and that gossip that harms. “Whatever is of good repute” is the living eulogy of godly character.
Think about what good things you can say. That sounds like my mother’s advice. “If you can’t say something good about a person, don’t say anything at all.” Maybe she knew Paul much better than I. These days I find it difficult to say good things about a lot of personalities in our culture. I struggle to say something of good repute about political figures or celebrities. They seem to me to embody everything that I think of as Babylon. But my mother – and Paul – is right. Better to say nothing than to spew invectives about their corruption and selfishness. Given the circumstances, I’m not so sure I wouldn’t be just as corrupt and selfish. In fact, if I truly examine my own history, I can find the same sins sans the headlines. Much better to think about euphemos.
Perhaps what we have here is a daily dose of course correction. What would happen if we made a point of saying something good about someone every day? What would happen to us if we made the effort to say something commendable about one of those “enemies” every day. Just one thing. “He’s an exceptional speaker,” or “she really touches the audience,” or something. Euphemos focuses on whatever is praiseworthy. That doesn’t mean all of it is praiseworthy. If I apply that same standard to my own life, I soon discover that I need some latitude as well. After all, I am not 100% praiseworthy. How can I expect others to be so?
That reminds me that there is only One who is 100% praiseworthy, 100% commendable, 100% of good repute. And that reminds me that if I feel the need to laud only the 100% variety, I will spend a good deal more time praising Him rather than focusing my attention on all the rest of us (including me) who don’t measure up to His standard. In fact, if I dwell on whatever is euphemos, I will find that praise outweighs everything else. Who knows? Maybe my prayers will change along the way. Maybe raba emunatecha will become much more evident in my life. And then I won’t have nearly as much motivation to participate in the rumor mill.