From Richard Roberts:
I am never surprised at the capacity of my heart to complain and become embittered. It is so common to see the evils of others and to avert my gaze from the good. This is especially true when we have been personally wounded by someone, whether justly or unjustly. We can stew in our resentment, continually reflecting on the wounds and those who have caused them. In this process we sometimes cherry pick their behavior and words, unconsciously choosing to believe only the evils and none of the good. This, of course, is simply pride at its root, rearing its ugly double-head of self-pity and self-righteousness. I imagine that this is what was happening in Philippi, seething bitterness that resulted in silent despondency of joyless anxiety and prayerless resistance to honor one another.
When we find ourselves in this place of bitterness, we are told how to correct it. We are to change what we value. We are to consider, which is an accounting term, meaning to "reckon" or "evaluate something as worthy", the virtues of Christ and to evaluate our own thoughts and reckonings according to those virtues before we act and speak towards others. In Philippians 4:8 there is a list of these virtues that can help correct us in our thinking and our speaking by asking some pertinent questions in these trying and evil times today.
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, reckon these things.”
Before we speak, and before we react, we need to stop and “reckon” what is worthy. I think that we need to be asking better questions regarding how we use our words and what we believe to be worth saying. Rather than claiming that I am free to speak, which is true, God has called us to something greater than mere freedom of speech. He has called us to gracious speech (Colossians 4:6). Maybe these questions are helpful to that end. Before we speak, let us ask:
These are the things which Paul says should be “accounted”, or “worthy of saying”. And there is a great promise attached to such behavior, in verse 9, “and the peace of God will be with you.”
We must guard our hearts from harboring bitterness and anger due to self-righteous defensiveness, rather than harboring the things of Christ in the anchorages of our hearts. How do we create peace? We weigh, we reckon, we value, the things of Jesus Christ as the most significant things in our relationships with one another. You see, Jesus is True. He is Noble. He is Just. He is pure. He is winsome. He is commended by God. He is morally excellent. He is helpful.
We create peace when we value Jesus Christ as worthy of our attention, our love, our affections, our hopes, and our delight. We need to fix our eyes upon Jesus and not upon the chaos of the world, the injustices against us, those who are clamoring for us to reckon them as worthy. We must see the goodness of Jesus so that we do applaud what is good, both in the world around us and in the Church, decrying all injustice while also constantly praising the good.
And above all, the power to “do these things” comes from the power of God’s own Holy Spirit working within us “to will and to work according to His good pleasure” (Phil 2:12-13). Therefore, let us spend our thoughts on the greatest of good, the highest of the praiseworthy, the most laudable of all that is excellent: Jesus, the Christ, the hope of the nations and the Redeemer of all that is broken. Let us imbibe on His person, this just and Almighty God who came down to redeem sinners by laying down His own life in our place.
Let us consider His grace towards us, so that we might be gracious in our speech and actions towards others, even when we must say “stop” and call out injustice. What kind of God is this that dies for His enemies? Who is this that mercifully provides for His ungrateful image-bearers? That is the one true God! Fill your minds with the virtues of Jesus and the God of peace will be with us, among us, to secure unity in the knowledge of Him, and bring us into the fullness of what we are supposed to be as humans: like Christ Jesus.