Whatever is Noble – Dignity & Honor

February 8th, 2024 – Thursday Morning

“Finally, brethren…whatever things are noble…” ~Philippians 4:8a,b
As we turn our attention to the second layer of a Biblical “thought filtration system”, we must keep in mind the reality of the first; each layer must be used congruently, not in a box by themselves. Whatever we allow to permeate and dwell in our hearts and minds must be noble, but it must also be true…and vice-versa.
So what does “noble” mean? First off, the Greek word used here also has the meaning of “august”, “venerated”, “honorable”, etc.; it is the same word used to describe the “dignified” character that is spoken of in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 2. Turning to Noah Webster and his 1828 dictionary, we see the word “noble” has this first definition: “Great; elevated; dignified; being above every thing that can dishonor reputation; as a noble mind; a noble courage; noble deeds of valor.” The word “dignity” has this one: “True honor; nobleness or elevation of mind, consisting in a high sense of propriety, truth and justice, with an abhorrence of mean and sinful actions; opposed to meanness. In this sense, we speak of the dignity of mind, and dignity of sentiments. This dignity is based on moral rectitude; all vice is incompatible with true dignity of mind. The man who deliberately injures another, whether male or female, has no true dignity of soul.”
Thus, on top of meditating or thinking on the things that are filtered to be true, believers are also to filter out what is injurious to others, dishonorable to the Lord, and what is incompatible with true dignity of mind (based on God’s Word and the standard that accompanies true godliness). “Whatever is noble” is what is honorable and full of dignity; it is not demeaning or condescending to others, it is not immoral or twisted; it does not tarnish or damage one’s own reputation or the reputation of others.
How does this play out in the day-to-day, moment-by-moment thought processes of you and I? How do we apply God’s Word to our hearts and minds?
First off, we need to make sure that our understanding of God Himself is accurate; He is always noble and honorable, in every way, at every time. He is just and righteous and holy and merciful, but He is also always honorable and full of dignity; He never distorts or twists what is truly good. If we understand Him and know Him in this way, it will fuel our obedience to being noble and dignified ourselves. Second, we must be deliberate in our thinking; we must test our thinking by the standard of what is truly noble according to God’s Word. For instance, if we are thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to think, we will naturally end up thinking in an undignified manner at some point. We will end up thinking in a way (and thinking leads to words and actions) that is demeaning, condescending, mean, or in some way causing injury to others.
Finally, we need to choose to reorient our perspective to what is noble when we find it out of line with God’s Word. With His grace and by His Spirit, we need to set our minds on things above and think about God, ourselves, and others in a way that is honorable. Elevate Him to the place He rightfully deserves, lower yourself to the place of servant and child of a good and gracious Father, and lift up all others with the dignity that God has showered on you.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble…if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”