Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. ~Philippians 4:8-9
So much of what defines us and drives us comes from where we place our focus. You become what you dwell on, what you let in to shape your heart and mind. If you spend most of your time dwelling on what is frightful, then you will spend much time afraid. If you dwell on what is bitter and contentious, then it will build bitterness and anger in you. If you dwell on the traits that you don’t like in another person, you will soon find yourself not liking that actual person.
Paul called us to think better thoughts and to follow a better way. He called us to set our minds on all things true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. We do this in several ways.
First, we dwell on Jesus crucified, resurrected, and ascended. In other words, we think often about the gospel. There is nothing more true, honorable, just, pure, etc., than God himself. And it is the life, sacrifice, and victory of God the Son that takes us from being rebellious sinners to pure and holy children of God. This should be what drives us more than anything.
Second, we dwell on what is good in others. Even if our sins have been washed away by Jesus, in this present life we are still imperfect, still fail, and still disappoint and hurt others. When it comes to these realities, God calls us to be forgivers, forgiveness-seekers, and reconcilers, just as he has forgiven us in Christ and reconciled himself to us despite our sin and flaws. So, we seek to dwell on what is good in others. We strive to give them the benefit of the doubt until proven wrong, then we seek to deal with that wrong. But if we are always looking for the best in others instead of the worst, it will go a long way in making our lives better.
Third, we should fill our imaginations most by what is good, honorable, and beautiful. This isn’t to say that Christians can only see sappy movies or read such books. No, life has grit in it and we cannot sugar coat that. But we should strive to let most of our entertainment come from that which has “redeeming value”—that which ultimately comes back to the good and helps us to remember that no matter what happens in life, in the end good has already triumphed over evil.
Dwell on the good that is God and that we find in life. Let this shape your mind and heart.
New posts from this devotional series in Philippians will run most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.