Philippians 4:8 for example,
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 sounds so wonderful. Kinda like unicorns and a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Wouldn’t it be nice to always just think about lovely things? But look around.
This world just sucks sometimes.
People are dying.
Relationships are broken.
Our TV show options are anything but admirable.
Evil is rampant.
(Throws some glitter up in the air and runs away….ooo pretty.)
Ok, so we already know WHY we should dwell on things that are pure and right. What goes in has to come out. Even if we don’t realize it. Proverbs 4:23 says,
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
The things we think about, and dwell on will make its way to our hearts, and everything we do is affected by it. If we just go along with what is relevant and allow our minds and hearts to be flooded with negative and horrible things, the light that God calls us to be will slowly dim. We will become numb to our surroundings and just accept that, this is the way it is.
God has called us to so much more than that.
If we aren’t intentionally focusing on what is life-giving, we will lose our hope and our joy.
The question is HOW?
How can we follow such high and lofty things in a world that is so opposite to the things of God?
And how to we focus on what is holy, without being ignorant to reality? We don’t want to hide from the world, but we need to know what we are opposing, and be prepared to fight against it. Jesus says,
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16. We need to be aware of what is going on, yet protect our selves from it; know what reality is but instead of dwelling on it, intentionally dwell on things that will renew us and equip us for battle.
We need to put on the armor of God.
Instead of focusing on how to get rid of the evil things on our own power, let’s strive for holiness with God’s help. (Heb 12:14) Let’s bathe in God’s presence because he is lovely and pure, and come out into the world with his peace that passes understanding. We can ask HOW, but I think on our own we will fall short every time. If we focus on God, who is love, naturally those things that are not of God will fall away.
We need to stand firm on the truth and take action.
Knowledge and intention are one thing but action is what changes our lives. When you are running in one direction, headed for a cliff, what good is knowing that cliff is there if you don’t stop and go the other way? Intention doesn’t matter when we end up at the bottom of the ravine. We need to see where we are headed, know the danger coming, STOP, and run to safety.
Knowledge is useless if we don’t do something about it.
Let’s dwell on the presence of our loving God and prepare our hearts for the day-to-day decisions and moments where knowledge meets action. And when that moment comes when we need to choose between pollution and purity we can trust that God will give us the tools and strength to grow towards Christ.
We need to pray.
God is calling in the orders and guiding us to places he can use us. We need to listen to what he’s saying. He’s calling you to fight a specific battle unique to your experience. Pray for those around you, those you are leading, and those leading you. Come to God, as you are, in your need and in praise, because he wants to bless you and lead you to freedom. Let’s communicate with our God.
In a perfect world we wouldn’t need to dwell on lovely things. In heaven we won’t need to be aware of evil. There will be plenty of glitter to go around. I look forward to that day. But in this imperfect world pulling at our attention and trying to break us down, we need to ask God to lead us towards things that fill us with joy; things that cause us to declare God’s glory like the sun declares its beautiful light.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.