This is one of the verses the Adult Sunday School class discussed this past Sunday. Since my wife, Phyllis and I have the privilege of teaching the H.S./Jr.High S/S class, we miss these lessons in one of the greatest of all the prophets, Isaiah. Thanks to my brothers, Gary & Dan who pray with me on Tuesday mornings (as well other days), I am kept somewhat "up" on what they're doing. The above verse is one of those that they mentioned this morning. I felt it good to write a little something on it because it has been a concern of mine over the years.
What is it to be ENNOBLED?
There are many books, movies and events which after we have experienced them leave us feeling degraded, or dragged down, right? On the other hand, there is the occasional movie which after viewing, you come away feeling strengthened, encouraged to live honorably, to not allow anything to dissuade you from persevering through the hard times. Unfortunately, many movies today have the opposite effect, they tend to denigrate, plunging us into the mundane, the banal. Christians, of all people, should practice putting themselves before that which ennobles.
Noble (besides when applied to royalty) refers to that which is "magnificent, relating to high moral principles, having excellent moral character." So, anything which promotes this we say is ennobling. QUESTION 1: How often are you placing yourself before ennobling things, discussing things of high moral principle, that which is calculated to build you up and not tear you down? QUESTION 2: How many are ennobled by being around you? Obviously, the former must be well in place before the later will have any effect.
Let me give you at least two Scriptures besides Isaiah that reinforce this truth. First, King Lemuel's mother had wise words for her son in Proverbs 31:1-9. She warns him in essence, don't throw yourself away on loose women, or drink alcohol thus losing a grip on good judgment and opening yourself to unjust decisions. Don't lower yourself, in other words. Others may lower themselves. Don't YOU do it. Rather, do what is right. Defend the weak, speak up for those who are too poor to get a good lawyer. Second, Paul urges the Philippian Christians to rise above needless worry and fretting care by soaking in the assurance of God's loving guidance over them. Let this, he says, "guard your hearts and minds." But then he goes on to add to this foundation how they are to ponder ennobling thoughts. You know the verse most likely. But take time to read it slowly, pronouncing each word aloud to let it's fullness sink into your heart.
“Finally, brothers, 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, think about these things. ” (Philippians 4:8)There it is! Think on that which is "honorable, lovely, excellent," anything worthy of praise. We cannot help the sins which we encounter in others, but we can stop focusing our attention unduly upon them. Martin Luther rightly said, "We cannot keep the birds from flying over our heads, but we can prevent them from building a nest in our hair."
Now, we might hear some skeptic say of us Christians, "Well, how can you live ennobling lives when from the very start you are telling people what sinners they are!" The answer is in the question. Knowing truly what we are paves the way for us to become what Christ died to secure for us, namely that we are "kings" unto God (1 Peter 2:9; Rev. 1:6). How much more ennobling can you get than that? Let us, dear fellow Christian, learn to live on the heights and not be dragged down by sin's degrading ways. Live above where Christ is (Col. 3).