Philippians 4; Ezekiel 24; Isaiah 52
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8 NKJV)
Paul warned the Philippians about the “crooked and perverse generation” of their time. (ch. 2) I think he recognized the debilitating effects of dealing with evil all the time could have, though, so we see these beautiful words in the middle of the last chapter. In short, think about the good things in life. All of chapter four has some beautiful encouragement. Sometimes we get so enmeshed in the battle, though, that we forget about the beauty of this God-created world. We see the ugliness of air pollution, and not the beauty of the mountains. We think about the trash in the water, and miss the beauty of the oceans. We grumble at the need to shovel the snow, and forget about the amazing beauty it brings as it covers over all the ugliness in the area. In short, we’ve become so focused on the problems, we fail to appreciate the beauty God has created. Maybe this is why Jesus said to become like little children: they often see the beauty we adults miss.
If you want to be reminded of the ugliness of this world, check your social media accounts, watch the cable news stations or the national news, or read the newspaper. The police blotter has all kinds of crazy stuff that will set your teeth on edge. Earlier this week, I was so disheartened by a few news stories that I was about to get into a depressive state. Then, these verses came to mind. Our church choir performed their Christmas music. Then, that evening our children’s choir performed. You know how children’s choirs always have “that one kid?” you know, the one that makes everyone in the congregation giggle and laugh…everyone that is except for the mother who’s cringing. At this most recent service, I had the joy of watching a mother who said later, “I know my kid.” She was encouraging her child and the child, getting the attention she needed, continued to be unique, but never went “out of bounds.” Seeing that mother enjoy her child being her child was noble, pure, lovely, and, in my mind, of good report. My heart rejoiced and while the bad news didn’t go away, I was reminded once again of the beauty God’s placed in this world.
Lord, help me to see Your world as a little child and see the beauty of Your world even when Your people are acting their worst. Let me spend my time thinking about how Your love and grace can make a difference and then showing that love and grace to others.