Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.... Philippians 4:8
The Lord has reminded me of this passage so many times that I realize it must still be something I need to work on. I have worked on it to be sure, even committing the passage to memory that I might recite it when I find myself doing just the opposite. The opposite such as chewing on thoughts of how wrong such and such is, or recalling things best forgotten.
Note the use of the imperative. We are told to think about these things. Yes, we are instructed to think about the good. I don't think this means that we should go about our lives wearing rose colored glasses. No, the Lord would never have us pretend that reality somehow does not include the negative, the tragic, and incidents of injustice or unkindness. We must live with our eyes wide open, always ready to evaluate life from the perspective of the Gospel.
But we can choose what we will dwell on in our thoughts. Do we spend more time decrying the action of evil in the world or more time rejoicing in the love of God?
Is it necessary to recall that past offense? Does recalling it serve any purpose or does it just fuel a self-indulgent enjoyment of resentment or indignation?
Does it help us, after recognizing that it exists, to wring our hands over the darkness in our world? Does it bring us any closer to the Lord or increase our faith? Not usually.
What about divulging mistakes that loved ones have made, or even those made by not-so-loved ones? Even under the guise of a prayer request, this sharing is often not done in love. (Excluded, of course, are those situations where one needs advice or empathy and, for that purpose, shares with a trusted friend or spouse.)
Hand wringing doesn't help anything. Nor does self-pity.
What about the situation or person who seems utterly hopeless. Note the word any in the passage above. Is there any excellence, is there anything worthy of praise? Sometimes there is not, but often there is some excellence, something worthy of praise. Does that person who is driving you nuts have some redeeming quality? Is that situation truly completely without hope?
I love Philippians 4:8. When I find myself drifting toward negativity I purposefully remember this passage and try to obey its instruction. Think about these things.
Yes, think about these things. Because such thoughts will take you to a place that is more loving, more fair, more kind, and so much more peaceful.
May we see and think as God does, embracing his mercy, his compassion, and his all-encompassing love.