I am excited about the rest of the year and next year. I think there are going to be some great opportunities and some great things are going to happen. I am looking forward to this next year. I know there are people who are already stressing about the election and who’s going to win and how the world is going to be. There are some fretting about food prices, gas prices and the prices of eggs. Those are all legitimate concerns and worries, but I don’t fret about those things. Really, who can fret enough to cause the price of eggs to go down or to get rid of the disease causing the crisis? Food prices raise all the time and we learn to adjust. Prices are not what they were when I was a kid, but did I stop buying groceries? No I learn to adjust.
I have learned that it’s not worth fretting over those things I can’t do anything about. I am learning to pick my battles and that’s not a battle I choose.
I have encountered many negative people in my lifetime. You know the ones; the ones that will fret over the smallest thing possible. I have known people who are leading a calm, peaceful life and begin to fret because nothing is going wrong. Really? Give me a few of those days. I can always find a reason to fret; I have children and grandchildren.
After studying Philippians 4 with my study group online (Yea, I have a Bible Study group online) I realize it’s a matter of choice where I go with my mind and thoughts. Paul encourages us to think about those things that are true. We are encouraged to think about thoughts that are true, genuine and sincere. How many times do we fret over things then we find out they aren’t true at all? We have wasted our time fretting over falsehoods. My husband on a number of occasions has come home to tell me what’s going on with his work. One day he came home and told me the latest news which soon put me in a panic. After a few minutes of me stewing he told me it was a rumor. I asked him how he knew it was. He simply stated he started it to see how far it would get. It went through the whole plant all the way home.
He also encourages us to think about those things that are noble. In other words we are to think about things that are honorable, things which claim respect. When Paul wrote to Timothy he said that believers were to lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty (1 Timothy 2:2-3) “The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.”
In this same section he tells us we are to think about those things that are just. Just means those things that are fair, honest, and truthful. When we begin to think about stretching the truth on our tax form we are not thinking justly. When we are thinking more about revenge than forgiveness we are not thinking justly.
Paul calls us to think about those things that are pure. He tells us its best to fill our minds with pure thoughts in order to combat the unclean influences on our culture. I am sorry, but there are so much impure, unclean and unhealthy shows on right now. We laugh and think they are great, but do we ever stop and think about those things invading our mind? I was watching Last Comic Standing (if you are a fan I am sorry you may want to skip over this one) and did I get a shock. First of all I was amazed at the language they could get by with and two I was amazed at what they thought was funny. I heard men and women making fun of fat people (their words not mine). How sad. I heard one man make fun of Christians and the Bible (thank goodness he got scolded from a judge) and I heard jokes about people from different cultures. Now why did I have this on if it upset me? I was knitting with a loom and the blanket is heavy and several feet long. My husband went to bed and left the TV on and didn’t hand me the remote. Poor excuse I know. I was too much into knitting that I didn’t get up and change channels, but by the time they got done I was appalled and heartbroken at where society has taken us and what we think is funny now. I am grounded into my faith, but what about those that aren’t so grounded? These are not pure thoughts that are invading our minds through the media.
He calls us to think about things that are lovely. It was understood that he meant orderly and those things that are pleasing. So much of what we see and hear today is just the opposite; its confusion and disorder. The world wants us to be on the go so much that much of our lives are lived in a state of confusion. Where are we to be and when? What child is to be taxied and where? We are constantly running from one thing to the next and we soon find disorder in our lives. We hear about putting money back in the savings account while another ad tells us we should be buying the next big item in order to keep up. I am confused; save or spend? Which is it? For many of us we have to choose, we can’t do both.
Finally we are to think about whatever things are of good report. Listening to such reports builds one up spiritually. Such things are the opposite of filthiness, foolish talking and coarse jesting. We are never to tear someone down. God frowns on that. We are to spend our lives building people up and giving them hope and encouragement. How often does someone say something negative to a person and then after seeing the reaction says, “Oh, you know I was just teasing. I didn’t mean it.” If you didn’t mean it why say it? There have been numerous occasions where people have made a remark to me just to say they didn’t mean it. Maybe they didn’t, but it weighed heavy on my mind for several minutes or days afterwards. “Obscene language, silly talk, or vulgar jokes aren’t acceptable for believers. Instead, there should be thanksgiving.” Ephesians 5:4
Now I believe in having fun and letting your hair down and enjoying life, but do we want to do it at the expense of our faith? When we talk about being Christians and then allow ourselves to tread lightly into the world hoping none of it will rub off is a dangerous game. Whether we like it or not we have folks watching us ready to pounce whenever we mess up. Why give them the opportunity?
In my opinion (and this is just for me you will have to decide for yourself) when I stay and listen to unclean thoughts, or unclean jokes or things that I know are not Godly and not walk away or turn off the TV I am running the risk of allowing those things to enter my thoughts and clutter my mind.
We can’t teach our children it’s not nice to be a bully and then sit and listen to jokes about fat people or people from other cultures. To me there is no difference; it’s still bullying even if you aren’t directly saying it to them.
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” Philippians 4:8-9
So what will you fill your mind up with? Those things that are noble, gracious, the best and gracious or those things that are ugly, those things that the world thinks is funny, but hurts others, or those things that can take our mind someplace we shouldn’t be going?
Dear God: Forgive me for treading where I shouldn’t tread and watching, and listening to those things that will clutter my mind and cause havoc in my mind. When I stand and not move away the world can see it as my approval and acceptance. Help me never to accept anything that is impure, unholy, and brings others down. Help me as I meditate on you and put into practice what Paul was teaching me through His words. Amen.