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 ESV)
The above verse is a favorite of well-intentioned friends and spiritual encouragement cards. It’s often-quoted as a reminder that our hearts and our minds shouldn’t be focused on the things of the world, but on the things of Christ. As His followers, we want what is important to Him to be important to us, and that means concentrating on the things that please Him.
However, sometimes this verse is used in a very ethereal sense. After all, how do we practically follow it? One such way is in our relationships – specifically our relationship with our spouse or significant other. They are (hopefully) the person that we interact with most, but frequently our interactions aren’t characterized by much thought. When we are contemplating our loved one, our focus is often on what hasn’t happened rather than what has. In other words, we often consider what’s missing from our relationships – the dreams that we would like to make reality, the conflict that we would like to resolve – rather than all the ways in which our relationships are a blessing.
One way to change this is to ask ourselves the following:
1) What is true about our relationship with our loved one? – What can I depend on them for and what are the ways that they demonstrate their consistency?
2) What is honorable in our relationship? – What are the ways in which our loved one shows us esteem and gives us praise? How does our relationship give glory to our King?
3) What are the ways that our spouse or significant other acts justly? – How do they demonstrate a commitment to follow God’s Word and live according to His plan?
4) How does our spouse or significant other display a godly purity? – What are they doing to abstain from worldly temptations and instead be conformed to Christ?
5) What do we love about them? – What are character traits and behaviors that bless us and give us joy?
6) What is commendable in their lives? – What do we respect our spouse for? What are qualities that they possess which we admire and esteem?
Answering these questions help demonstrate what is excellent in our relationships with our loved ones, and they help remind us of the blessing that the relationship is.