“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.”
Our lives are influenced by what we think. And what we think is a product of our past as well as being fed by the influences of the world in which we live, the people with whom we associate and the news that we read and hear. It is important, therefore, to exercise control over our minds – instead of allowing them merely to react to negative stimuli.
Very easily do we indulge ourselves in angry and critical thoughts about others, negative thoughts about ourselves, and doubtful thoughts about God. All of these affect our opinions, relationships and the way we conduct our lives. They do nothing to help us or anyone else. Our minds need to become used to new habits of thought as well as choosing to reject what is not helpful. As we ‘choose to choose’ our thoughts we may well be astonished at what we need to filter out.
Christian love begins to look out for the positive and beautiful aspects of life and living and focus on them. This is not artificial and an ignoring of the reality, but it is a refusal to merely dwell on weakness and ugliness when it is not helpful. There is beauty all around us. There are fine qualities in many people, including ourselves.
Paul is challenging us to allow the God-given beauty within us – the new and redeemed us, temples of the lovely Holy Spirit Himself – to begin to surface and take control of our thoughts. God will give us a new focus, a fresh awareness, and a different perception of truth. We will discover that there are deeper truths than the superficial bits and pieces that have come our way.
We can choose not to reflect the world but to reflect the God of love instead. That means also feeding ourselves on His love and life and word – not merely on worldly news and views. And when we do meet news that is distressing, whilst we may acknowledge even the sin that is behind it, we can pray for all and everyone involved that somehow God’s love and blessing will touch them all.
There are enough armchair critics. Check yourself and step out in a new way.
Father, fill me with beauty and the loveliness– and help me to discern more of Your Truth and Love. In Jesus name, Amen.