“The last thing, brothers, is that whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is upright, whatever is holy, whatever is lovely, whatever is praiseworthy, if there is virtue and if there is praise, think on these things.”
If you have spent any time in construction, the term “upright” has a very specific meaning in your mind. It has to do with those posts or rods that stand vertically in a structure which usually are used to support the structure. Whether these are upright walls or pillars, not only must they stand vertically, but they must be structurally sound to bear the weight placed upon them and to bear up against wind and weather.
When applied to a person, we see the significance of this notion. For those who are upright are those who live according to a standard of righteousness set forth by God in the Bible. The upright are men and women of integrity who can be relied upon to uphold their promises and strive for what is right regardless of the cost. The upright are those who seek to model Christ’s life for others.
In addition, the upright also provide the moral backbone of a society. When a society has no upright, but is ruled and filled by the corrupt, like a house with leaning walls, it will fall. When a community undergoes a great tragedy (whether from a tornado or another sort of crisis), it will be the upright that preserve the society from collapsing. My wife and I were living in Mississippi when Hurricane Katrina struck the coastline. Even more than 100 miles inland, we lost power to 80% of the city of Jackson, roads were closed everywhere due to downed trees, and many people in our state lost everything. Yet, what was notable, was the distinct contrast between the events in Mississippi and the events that took place in neighboring New Orleans. For while neither city was without corruption, it seemed that the upright were far more dominant in Mississippi than in their neighboring state. While there were repeated stories of hoarding, theft, looting, and murders in the news of New Orleans, there were largely stories of communities coming together to help one another in Mississippi. Why? It was due to the upright in the communities holding our communities together. Much like the strong pillars that hold up the great architectural wonders of the world, believers should be those pillars for our communities.
And Paul relays to us to think on these things. Why? For if you strive for the things that reflect Jesus Christ to the world, you too will grow to be more like Christ in your character.