“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
The ninth and last item about which the believer is to structure his thinking is “praiseworthy.”
“and if there is anything praiseworthy”
The word “praiseworthy” is preceded by an “if.” The “if” is an “if” of assumed fact: “Since there is actually something praiseworthy” in the other person. Every true child of God has something praiseworthy in him, no matter how distorted he may be. This is the second assumed fact about which the believer is to think. We are to think about what is praiseworthy in other Christians.
“Praiseworthy” describes any characteristic of a person worth praising due to his practice of moral excellence. There are things of which humans universally approve; that is, whatever is generally deemed praiseworthy by all human beings.
There were things in both Euodia and Syntyche worthy of praise, no matter how far they had deteriorated into carnality. Paul said, in effect, “If you cannot approve of each other’s growth or spirituality, at least you can approve of each other as human beings!” This is an approval of the civic worth in the other person. Paul was saying, “At a bare minimum, be civil with each other!”
God expects us to find at least a modicum of praise in other Christians.
It is easy to find fault with others. One of the easiest things to find is fault. The person who is always finding fault seldom finds anything else. It is a lot easier to blow out another person’s light than to light your own. It is more difficult to find something to praise in other people.
Take a good look at your worst enemy. Is there anything “praiseworthy” in him? At a minimum, be civil with him!