Words of Worth

“Be Pretty”

February 17, 2012

While I was growing up in Mississippi, my grandmother (my dad’s mom) lived two doors down from me. When I say, I “beat a path” to her house, I did just literally that. There was a visible path through the grass worn down by my bare feet from my front door to hers. Memories can be tricky but I seem to remember she was almost always in the kitchen when I ran through her screen door. For sure I know that every single time I left her house, she was standing on the front porch, waving goodbye and watching me run back home.

Her name was Alice Beatrice but to her thirteen grandchildren she was “Mamaw Bea” and she was very “grandmotherly”. Since I lived the closest to her, I popped in and out of her house at will but without fail, she would watch me leave and if she knew I was leaving her house to go somewhere else besides back home, she would call out one of her most unique “grandmotherly” sayings, “BE PRETTY!” That was Mamaw Bea’s way of telling me to behave. In her presence, I had to behave but she wanted me to “be pretty” whether she was with me or not!

In Philippians 1:27, we find Paul writing something along those lines to the church at Philippi.

“Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”

Maybe my grandmother was echoing Paul’s words when he said, “Be pretty so that whether I can come see you or not, I don’t have to worry about you behaving!” Being caught misbehaving is a major joy stealer. See, I grew up in a small town – any misconduct on my part reflected on my family and the news would spread pretty quickly. At any given moment, someone could see me and report to my parents or my grandmother. They always wanted to hear that I was “standing firm” on the principles they had instilled in me as a child. It would have stolen their joy (and mine later!) to hear that I was not behaving.

Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians is about more than “behaving” – it’s about being united in one mind striving for the faith of the gospel. He wanted the Philippians to do more than have proper conduct; he wanted their actions to reflect their changed hearts. The church at Philippi was new and they were pointing people to the risen Christ. For many unbelievers, it would begin with noticing that these Philippians were behaving ChristLIKE.

Think about your daily routine and all the people who see you at your work or school or business – how would they say you “behave”? Like Christ? As 1 Peter 1:15 says,

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in ignorance, but (be) like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior.”

Or in the words of my grandmother, “BE PRETTY!” (CT)

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