Philippians 4:8-9 (NIV)
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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
When Paul wrote these verses to the Philippians he was in jail, and they were finding life difficult as a consequence of their faith. In their world, following Jesus and being friends with Paul made relationships, social status and business much harder – not to mention more blatant forms of persecution. So, Paul’s encouragement to focus on thinking about positive things was not just a light-hearted statement of “Smile! Be happy!”. Rather, it was a formula for transforming their thinking and their outlook from their difficult circumstances to more positive pursuits.
I note the flow of Paul’s thoughts here. A few verses earlier he says “Don’t be anxious – instead present your requests to God” – THEN he says change your thinking to whatever is true, noble, right etc. He is instructing them to stop dwelling on the problem. Give the problem to God then make sure you think about good, positive things.
So how does this apply to me? In so many ways! Sometimes I worry about things. Canon J. John calls that worshipping the problem. Sometimes I grumble to myself. Often, I look down on myself. It’s not easy, but I need to learn to recognise when my thinking has gone astray, submit my thoughts to God then choose to focus on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable. It is amazing how effective that is when I allow God to transform me.
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for the wise, practical instruction in the Bible. Thank you for transforming me as I submit my thinking to you. Please help me to recognise unhelpful thinking and change it to thinking about the positive. Amen
Written by Megan Cornell