“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
My 5-year old son just started his first week of kindergarten at a classical school. I didn’t know what a classical education was until recently. What I have learned so far intrigues me. The school is based on the philosophy that the job of an educator is to train students to desire what is true, what is beautiful and what is good.
In a world where truth is relative and therefore, it can be anything you want it to be, this philosophy swims upstream against the cultural current. One of the school’s founding principles is a belief in the existence of one true God, who made the heavens and the earth, who breathed life into man and woman, who was there from the beginning, and in whom all things hold together. It is a belief in a God who is the Maker and Designer of all things true, beautiful and good.
But this isn’t a post about classical education. This isn’t even really a post about children. This is more about the idea of what it means to desire what is true, beautiful and good. Practically, what does that even look like?
I recently read an article by Linda Dey, a proponent of classical education, who says that our desires are deeply shaped by our habits, those things we do without thinking, those things that are part of our daily routine. Those are the things that shape what we believe is true, beautiful and good.
It is the things we read and the picture we look at on Facebook. It is the shows we watch on TV. It is the stories we read in books or pictures we look at in magazines. It is the conversations we have with our friends. It is the activities we are involved in. It is where we shop and what we buy, how we spend our money and our time. All of are these habits, ways of living that shape who we are, etching grooves in our hearts that shape what we desire.
Then, those desires influence our thoughts. I know for me, when I go shopping for clothes, I almost always walk out feeling depressed about my body. I’m almost 40 and for some reason, I think I still have the body I did when I was 16. What I see in the mirror and the clothes I put on, shapes how I think about myself.
On the other hand, I know that when I get out in nature, somewhere near a lovely body of water or in a heavily wooded forest, I feel refreshed, energized, and at peace. My eyes are lifted up to my Creator and my spirit soars.
I know that when I read a good book or a watch a good show or see something on Facebook that honors virtue over vice, goodness over evil, humility over pride, temperance over indulgence natural beauty over superficial vanity, I am encouraged. My eyes are lifted up, onto things above.
My desire for myself and my family is to seek those things which lift our eyes up to God. And in order to do that, I must be disciplined in my habits. Carefully selecting books, movies, activities, friends who encourage me towards those things.
Spending time in God’s word on a daily basis is one of those habits that greatly shapes what I believe about myself and the world around me. It is one of those things that doesn’t feel urgent, but is important.
- Think about your daily habits.
- Are they habits that encourage truth, beauty and goodness?
- If not, how could you replace them with habits that do?
Lord Jesus, thank you for teaching me how much the outside world and my daily ways deeply affect my heart and my thoughts. Help me to meditate on the things that are lovely and beautiful and good. Show me the areas in my life that are pulling me in the opposite direction, towards darkness and vice, towards death and decay. Help me to pass on good habits to my family. Thank you, Lord, that you are the Creator of all things true, beautiful and good. Amen.