4 Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! 5 Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. 7 Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.
8 From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. 9 Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you.
Bob Goff said a key to fixing our eyes on Jesus (we read about that yesterday) is to “be careful about what we fill our head with.” What we choose to focus on shapes how we relate to God and others. The apostle Paul’s words in Philippians “…could sound like empty sentimentality if not for the fact that Paul is writing from prison…. When we bring the things that cause us stress into prayer, we put ourselves and our troubles inside a much bigger picture: the story of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ, a love that is stronger than anything that can hurt us or those we love.”*
Lord Jesus, teach me how to think your thoughts. Guide me into a thought life obsessed, not with fear, anger or ugliness, but with all that is excellent and admirable. Amen.
* Cynthia M. Campbell, sidebar article “Stress” in The CEB Women’s Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2016, p. 1492.
** I-Jin Loh and Eugene A. Nida, A Handbook on Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. New York: United Bible Societies, 1977, p. 134.
I grew up in a somewhat thrifty family where we were taught not to let food go to waste. This meant that when we found bread that had a little bit of mold on it, it wasn’t a big deal. We’d just cut off the moldy part. We didn’t worry about it because we were eliminating the rotten part… or so we thought. It wasn’t until just recently that I learned otherwise. Mold is a fungus, and the mold that you see on the bread is only a portion of the entire fungus. The green fuzz doesn’t represent the system of roots which are invisible to the naked eye. When you think you are eating the “clean” portion of the bread, you don’t realize that it is filled with mold.
Our souls are a bit like bread. It’s easy to see we are moldy when we’re angry, selfish, or rude. We can try to cut out these behaviors just as we’d cut off the mold on bread. However, the problem isn’t solely the behaviors just as the mold isn’t solely the green fuzz. Both go deeper. The roots of poor behavior are often insecurities, anxieties, and hurt. If you see yourself looking moldy from the outside, think about what is likely going on in the inside. From there you can take the advice given to the Philippians who were obviously dealing with moldy souls as well:
Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus. From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise.
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