“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.”
This week’s reflection verse for the online Bible study of Stressed-Less Living hit me between the eyes. The past week or so, I have felt completely on edge and have been fighting off grumpiness and irritability. I have found myself saying things to my husband and children that were not well thought out and simply a spewing of my emotions. Philippians 4:8 helped me begin to get a grasp on my feelings and more closely align my reactions to truth.
The first thing we should note about this particular verse is that it is addressed to all brothers and sisters in Christ. Yep, that meant God was talking to me. I could feel myself squirming under the realization that much of my situation was caused by my own attitude. So, what does the verse tell me that would help me change my attitude and shed some of the grumpiness and irritability that had been plaguing me?
Whatever is true…
True is defined in several ways at dictionary.com.
1. being in accordance with the actual state or conditions; conforming to reality or fact; not false: a true story.
2. real; genuine; authentic: true gold; true feelings.
3. sincere; not deceitful: a true interest in someone’s welfare.
4. firm in allegiance; loyal; faithful; steadfast: a true friend.
5. being or reflecting the essential or genuine character of something: the true meaning of his statement.
When reading through these definitions, it struck me that these are all descriptions of God and through Christ, it is expected to be descriptions of Christians also. When looking at my situation, how does my current situation align with what is true? Is my perception of a situation accurate? Are my reactions genuine? Am I being sincere? Am I being faithful to God, but also to the others involved? Am I reflecting the one true God in how I am reacting? It is often difficult to perceive the truth in the midst of a heated situation, that is why our thoughts and quiet time are essential to dealing with our emotions in a truthful way.
Whatever is noble…
In this case, I look at noble not as higher social status, but in light of our thoughts. Noble thoughts in this verse are referring to excellence in morality. Our minds cannot be ruled by base thoughts, otherwise our actions will follow suit. Our minds should focus on the ultimate in nobility in our faith, Jesus Christ. His life and death make it possible for us to replace evil or ignoble thoughts with the noble thoughts modeled by Christ.
Whatever is right…
The concept of rights is a word that is lightly thrown around. In this verse, it is not talking of our weak human notion of equality of outcome. The fact is, life is not fair. God does not promise a life that is fair. So, when I am in the midst of my anger over why my young children are not responding in a rational way, I should not be thinking how unfair it is. Instead, I should be looking toward what is the right thing to do in the situation. Proverbs 22:6 tells me, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” I should be looking to teach my children what is good, true and right. Will it be easy, probably not. Is it what I should do, absolutely!
Whatever is pure…
Pure thoughts should be free from blemish and contamination. The devil loves to live in our thoughts. It is quite easy to allow “poor me” thoughts to enter in. I cannot allow these thoughts to overtake the what is true, noble and right.
Whatever is lovely…
Anyone who has ever been in the pit of depression knows that unlovely thoughts breed quickly. They take over the mind and leave the heart and mind in a fog of darkness that sometimes seems impenetrable. Thinking lovely thoughts, i.e. finding the good in everything, can help us to overcome the darkness of negative thinking.
Whatever is admirable…
What should be worthy of our admiration? Our reverence? We should be looking to those people and things that follow God’s Truth. This means our thoughts should go those who set a good example. Read Scripture. Look to godly examples.
“If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things.” Indeed this week has been a challenge to overcome the negative thoughts that creep into my mind, but I have deeply felt my successes. It gives me the power to continue trying to fight the battle over negative thinking. My prayer for each of you this week is to look at your thoughts. You will be surprised at how much a perspective change will change your stress levels. It may not make the situation different or easier, but it will allow you to be better equipped to handle it.