8 Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. Philippians 4:8
We live in a broken world. There are so many things wrong that it would take me days and days to list them all. It’s doubtful that the world has changed a whole lot since Paul was sitting in prison writing to all the churches in modern day Europe, yet instead of focusing on all that was wrong and needed to change, Paul told the people in Philippi to focus on good things.
That makes no sense – how can you think about lovely things when you’re in prison? Or when your world is falling apart? Or when you’ve lost your job? Or when you’re broke? Or when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a week? Or when someone you love loses their battle with cancer?
For the most part, I am able to find something to be grateful for every day. And I do appreciate the beauty that’s found in nature. However, the time I spend thinking about all the things for which I’m grateful or that are beautiful is very disproportionate to the time I spend thinking about what things are wrong, things that have inconvenienced or annoyed me, things that are just plain stupid.
What’s even more disturbing is that Paul isn’t telling us to stop complaining (murmuring) or whining, he’s telling us what to think about. Not gonna lie, just keeping myself from murmuring since I posted almost two weeks ago has been a challenge and now, not only do I have to keep from uttering things out loud, I also have to change what I’m thinking about?!?!
Yes, apparently, I do. Actions and attitude are reflections of my thoughts, and when I allow myself to be consumed by negativity, I’m of little use to anyone. It’s easy to find someone to commiserate with (we all know misery loves company) but what we really need is to build each other up by reminding each other of all that we have to be grateful for, all the beautiful things that surround us, and the people who work selflessly to make the world a better place.
The next time you’re tempted to think about everything that’s wrong in your world, replace those thoughts with something lovely or praiseworthy. I’d love to hear what happens when you start replacing those negative thoughts with good ones. I’ll be taking this journey right along with you.