Philippians 4: 5-9
5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
How often do we read this passage without thinking about what it says. “Think like Pollyanna” is often what runs through our minds and then we go on our merry way without really digging into the depths of the truths of the passage. How often do we focus on certain words in verse eight like… “True” or “right” while ignoring “of good repute” and “pure” and “honorable”.
We’re told to have a gentle spirit. (Not just women, this passage is to men too.) We’re told to have a thankful, appreciative heart. We’re told to allow the peace of God cleanse us from an anxious spirit. Too often these are tossed aside for the ‘truth’ aspect of life. “Speaking the truth in love” is, in my opinion, one of the most misquoted and misapplied verses in scripture. It isn’t a license to say whatever you think no matter how unedifying as long as it is rooted or even smothered in truth.
We’re supposed to dwell on truth. We’re supposed to dwell on what is honorable. What if the truth is not honorable? Is it possible that we are not to be DWELLING upon those truths then? If it is true that a brother or sister in Christ is defrauding the body of Christ, just how honorable is it to keep that ugliness at the forefront of our minds and our conversations? How is this pure?
If a brother in Christ is having an affair, how is discussing this (however true) pure, of good report, or lovely? Yes, it is true. Yes, it needs to be discussed at certain times and places. (Church discipline and the like) Why, though, do we allow ourselves to dwell on it. Is this Biblical? Is it honorable?
I think it would be incredibly foolish and immature to pretend there is no ugliness out there. I do believe we are to uphold the highest standards in ourselves and in our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I truly believe that to ignore sin is sometimes as wrong as participating in it. I am not calling for blinders to truth. That would be violating the scripture above.
But I wonder, can others tell, by our speech, message board posts, blogs, and such what is foremost on our heart? Do we constantly write or talk about the failures of ourselves or others? Are we focused on what is right in the world or the church or are we focusing on what is wrong? Where is our heart? “From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
What is filling our hearts and therefore our speech?
Occasionally, it benefits a congregation for a pastor to give a ‘state of the church’ address. Sometimes we need to hear where we’re failing or what is a serious problem in the world. Sometimes we need our eyes opened to the ugliness around us. If we don’t, we tend to splash in the muck for a while before we realize just how much the world has encroached upon us.
However, sometimes we need to just hear what TO do. What we’re supposed TO be doing. Sometimes we need a ‘the church is really making an impact here. Christian women are making such a large contribution to this or that. Christian men are sweeping the nation with that or the other. If all we hear is how we fail or are going to fail, what is the final result? If you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, why is it that so many of us are sporting permanent puckers from overdoses of vinegar?
I wonder what effect it would have in our homes if we became a bit more discerning about the truths we speak, the facts we share, and the things we truly dwell on. What if we ensured that we didn’t ignore unpleasant truths but we focused the majority of our concentration on those things which edify, encourage, and uplift?
Imagine the effects of sharing a preacher that we highly respect and have learned excellent truths from rather than always disecting another preacher’s faulty theology.
Imagine if we shared how helpful our new curriculum is rather than listing the faults and failures of every other curriculum on the market.
Imagine if we focused on the excellent qualities of our husbands and children rather than speaking the truth of their sinful selves.
We can’t ignore when a preacher mishandles the Word of God. That would be wrong. But must we drag it into every theological discussion? We would be wrong to hide what we see as flaws in curriculum when it could help a sister avoid a costly mistake in her homeschooling decisions but must every discussion of curriculum involve the inadequacies you see in every curriculum you despise? Finally, we often need help with our relationships and responsibilities to our husbands and children but do we give the world a terrible impression of our family because of our unbalanced discussions and lack of discretion.
Think on these things. Be anxious for nothing. Show appreciation and gratitude to the Lord. Show your gentle spirit.
Do we do it?