Something to think about
May 27, 2020 | 3 Comments
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
What should you be thinking about? Some answers require a careful mining of Scripture, but this one is simple and clear: we are to think about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise. This is a pretty broad statement as well. Whatever includes anything at all that fits these descriptors.
Paul is doing something more than saying, “Be positive!” He is reminding the church to look at their lives and circumstances according to a gospel lens. You can be honest about difficult things and struggles, because that is included in the true. But for the Christian, it’s not the whole truth; your troubles will produce faith and mold your character. Beyond that, you are to look for the honorable things happening in the midst of your troubles, celebrate the justice you experience, and be encouraged by the pure and the lovely, the commendable and the excellent. You are to think of the things worthy of praise.
In other words, you are to look for the things that remind you of Jesus. Seeing Jesus means looking for the beauty of his character and person — his attributes in things like the weather and the reminders of his goodness in some kindness demonstrated to you. It also means looking for the beauty of Jesus’s story — the gospel story: the way he will redeem the hard things, rescue the lost things, and restore the broken things. Even when the whole of a thing might not point to Jesus, you can look for the things that do.
When you evaluate a news story, you can think about what is true (and not true) in it, rather than trying to dismiss or accept the whole story at face value. You can see sinful people doing good things and think, “That’s a kind thing they did,” and yet also, “That person needs salvation.” You can lament this current pandemic and still affirm that there are good things to be experienced. We are to be those who look for Jesus in our world, because we are the ones who recognize him and his story. Then, we can point the broken and the lost to him and become part of that story, too.
- Think about what you read and watch. With the caveat that there are certainly things that are so sinful and wicked we are not to have anything to do with them, how can you approach your reading and watching with more than escape or entertainment in mind? How can you engage the news cycle being neither naïve and gullible nor cynical and obstinate?
- What are the things that remind you about Jesus this week? Remember that these can be both negative and positive things — things that remind you he is good and things that remind you that we need more of that goodness. Take a moment to pray in thanksgiving and rejoice that Jesus is present and active in our circumstances.
- How can noticing these true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy things affect your interactions with the unbelieving world? How would this sort of thought life affect your conversations and demeanor? How can you point to Jesus first internally and then externally?