Thinking; February 9, 2023

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, 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.

The whole letter to the Philippians is so loving, joyful, and practical! “Favorite verses” abound, making the choice of what to write on difficult. However, this verse particularly strikes me at the moment. We live in the Information Age indeed, and we are constantly bombarded with things to see and think about. The big issue becomes filters, for our eyes, minds, and hearts. The Holy Spirit will guide us in this, but we need to seek and be open to that guidance. None of the evil in the world today is new, but in the past it was a little easier to avoid it, at least. For example, there have always been drug addicted, mentally unstable people in the world, but these days in some cities you can hardly step out of your house without encountering them. Likewise, moral perversion has always been around, but recently it’s even being promoted in schools. And that doesn’t even get to political corruption, which is being exposed with depressing regularity. The thing is, constant exposure to all of that tears us down. It’s easy to say, “Fix your eyes on Jesus,” (Hebrews 12:2) and that is important, certainly, but we need to get more granular, and that is what Paul is doing here. Rather than saying, “Don’t think about such and such,” He is telling us what we are to think about. It’s like the story of the man who was told he would have something wonderful if he could only not think about a white horse, and he suddenly discovered that was all he could think about. Negative commands can be very important, as in the 10 Commandments, but positive commands are generally easier to follow. It’s interesting to note that when Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, both of the ones He cited were positive. (Matthew 22:35-40) In the sea of negative filth in which we find ourselves, we need to be proactive in filling our minds and hearts with the positive, just as Paul says here.

As I noted at the time, using my wife’s computer in the hospital I realized that YouTube was giving me different suggestions than what I was used to, and it hit me that the algorithm gives you more of whatever you click on. My wife had been wiser in her clicks than I had been! Since then my own desktop computer has “cleaned up” a good bit, because I have been more careful and conscious in my clicks. That said, simply paying attention to the news can be pretty depressing. The recent earthquake in Turkey is a case in point, and the news has generated a lot of prayer. On top of that there’s the constant barrage of political news, very little of which fits into the categories Paul mentions in this verse. I have recently been unsubscribing from various newsletters that seem calculated simply to stir me up and get me angry. I don’t need to focus on that junk! As I started out by saying, I need to let the Holy Spirit be my filter on all levels, so that my responses and my actions will be what my Father desires, for His glory.

Father, thank You for this reminder. It’s certainly timely! Help me so live that when people think of me it will fit into Paul’s categories, drawing those people into the relationship with You that is transforming me, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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