In the fall of 2014, I asked our daughter to get the mail. She came back from the mail box with a pile of junk, including several catalogs. One of the catalogs was filled with Halloween costumes and decorations, so she plopped down on the sofa to look through it.
After turning a few pages, she brought the catalog to me with a concerned look on her face. As she handed it over, she said,
“I don’t think this passes the Philippians 4:8 Test.”
“The what?” I asked.
“The Philippians 4:8 Test.”
And then she recited the memory verse she’d learned at school that week:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.
She explained that her teacher was teaching the class to use this verse as a litmus test for decision-making. To consider the criteria of Philippians 4:8 when they were thinking about whether or not to do something. And if what they were thinking about didn’t satisfy the criteria of this verse, then her teacher was encouraging them to “choose not.”
Now to be clear — we don’t have a thing against Halloween. In fact, we love the childish side of the holiday, and we join in the neighborhood festivities as a family every year. But we do draw limits with respect to the costumes our kids can wear and the activities we will participate in. And as I looked through this particular catalog, I had to admit, it was creepy. And it didn’t satisfy the criteria of Philippians 4:8. So we put it in the recycle bin.
In the coming weeks, we began to reference the Philippians 4:8 Test around the house. And it has become one of our mantras.
We’ve used it when talking about the content of movies and music that we will (or won’t) expose our children to.
We’ve discussed it when we’ve seen ads for violent video games on TV.
We’ve referenced it when considering how to respond to scenarios that come up at school.
And we’ve used it when discussing our goals as a family.
It’s serving our family well and has been the basis for some great discussions with our kids.
So the next time your family is confronted with something, and you or your kids aren’t sure how to respond, ask yourself these questions:
Is it true?
Is it noble?
Is it right?
Is it pure?
Is it lovely?
Is it admirable?
Is it excellent or praiseworthy?
If whatever it is you’re thinking about meets these criteria, then go for it! And have fun along the way!
But if it doesn’t?
If it falls short somehow?
If it leaves you wondering?
Then consider the wisdom of our daughter’s teacher. Consider “choosing not.”
I think you’ll be glad you did.