We are each designed for a unique and divine purpose. Live yours!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Whatsoever Things Are True

I have been experiencing quite a few changes in my life lately and more are on the way. Some of the changes are or will be rather painful and I find myself all tied up in knots from time to time, thinking and worrying about some things I believe I need to do in order to be obedient to God’s plan for me in the next stage of my life. The decisions are not necessarily any easier to make even believing they are in line with that plan! Situations like this call for peace of mind and heart. I came across the following verses this evening and I know I will re-read them often in the weeks to come.

Philippians 4:8,9 KJV

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

This is really a tall order to my mind. Honesty, justice, purity, loveliness and being of good reputation: these are challenging qualities to live into and to live out. I don’t actually even know anyone who possesses or demonstrates all of them in one package even a majority of the time! Yet we are assured that in our striving for all that is honest, just, pure, lovely, positive and virtuous we will find peace. Even if our striving makes others uncomfortable, or may cause us to be shunned, we are to strive nonetheless.

The peace Paul speaks of is not just a quiet calm. He’s referring to a peace that surpasses anything we can create or bring about on our own—the peace that surpasses understanding. That kind of peace is only possible through Christ’s death and resurrection. Paul’s not suggesting that we’re to walk around wearing “rose colored glasses.” He is simply pointing out that if we are to find genuine, true and lasting peace of mind and heart, we should focus on Jesus and the promise He fulfilled.

I’m one of those individuals who tends to mull things over, then turn them over, then break them down to the lowest common denominator, then mull some more! Paul chastises me that I am not being very wise in acting this way. My negativity impacts not only my own life, but the lives of everyone in my sphere of influence. Rather, He urges us to focus on those issues of eternal importance. This world will one day pass away and all the earthly woes we spent time and energy focusing on will pass away with it. That’s why we need to keep our eye on the Cross.

These verses also speak to the kind of people we are expected to be. Not only are we to think on things that are positive and good and life-affirming, we are to be positive and good and world-enhancing people. We are to be virtuous, just, honest, upright and “peace-bearers.” In other words, we are to be Christ to a world that is largely false, dishonest, unjust, ugly and lacking in virtue. That is very challenging! Speaking for myself, I fall short each and every day!

Paul is in prison when he pens these words! He is truly a source of inspirational words. His source is his unwavering faith in Jesus Christ and the life Christ won for us on the Cross. If Paul can be so uplifting and Christ-focused from a prison cell, I don’t think many of us have very good excuses not to follow Paul’s teachings.

I pray, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in [Paul, you will] do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” And I pray He will also be with me.

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