Those things I admire are things I spend time looking upon or reading about. The people I admire are the ones I seek interaction with or those I might even downright stalk because they gave something I want. Everything that has happened over this past year caused the things and people I admire to coalesce into characteristics and values.
Don’t get me wrong, I admire a beautiful pair of shoes but I don’t value or need them. Honestly, I used to admire things and seek to add things to my life. I tried to surround myself with things pleasing to the eye. But all these things were just that. Things. They ruled me instead of me enjoying them. They became work to maintain and care for and took more than they gave.
God liberated me from my “stuff” when He sold our house and moved us to Belize. It has been a liberating year and everything in me cries out against getting entangled with personal belongings again. Instead, God has changed my focus and placed my admiration upon characteristics as taught by Paul.
“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 http://bible.com/114/php.4.8.nkjv
Paul provided a practical list of things to which I can turn my mind when my nature attempts to derail my newfound liberty. My nature, spurred on by the encouragement of the evil one, will seek to comfort myself with stuff. This is a weakness I have been susceptible to my entire life. I am so grateful God has liberated me from the bondage of stuff. I pray He continues to give me self-control in this area. As a practical defense against the temptation, Paul’s words are of great encouragement to me.
What is true? Jesus came to pay the penalty for my sin. What an awesome gift and something to be pondered and taken in completely. The cornerstone of my faith and my life. He is the Rock on which I can stand. This includes honesty. Honesty to myself before the Lord as well as before my fellows.
My parents taught this concept throughout my life as: “Renae, you are only as good as your word.” Meaning, if I say I’m going to do something, I’d better do it. This has proven difficult in my walk with God. It seems my intentions are great, but I don’t necessarily plan for the realities of what my mouth commits me to do.
Noble things are harder for me to find. Of course the actions of Christ’s and His faithful followers are noble. It can be diffucult to find nobility in this world. The man who helps a friend take his car to the shop. The woman who speaks patiently to her exhausted six year old, the teenager who holds the door and waits patiently for an elderly couple to enter, or the one who visits the retirement home every Thursday to play cribbage with a lonely soul. These are noble and selfless acts, worth pondering as well as practicing.
What is just? That which is right according to God’s word. It has nothing to do with what the world says is just. Our justice system is so broken criminals get away with crimes. Crime is on an increase. We try to separate crumple into categories. What we try to label simple crime and what we familiarly know as “an act of terror” which takes it out of the criminal statistics. I argue crime is crime and it occurs with great regularity all over the world. Also in our own communities, towns, and cities.
Pure and lovely! The giggles of small children, flowers and the beauty of the planet God gave us to have dominion over. The small moments, when my husband touches the small of my back to guide me or reassure me he is there. The look in the eyes if my husband as he looks at me. These are a few gifts here in the world. But gazing on the character of Christ, the beauty of the plan of salvation, the wonder of the place Christ went to make for me. These have no faults or mistakes and cannot be misunderstood. The Godhead, pure and lovely.
What do we have of good report these days? The news fills our minds with negativity, violence, crisis, argument, dischord, and lies. Reporting isn’t the who, what, how, when, and sometimes why of a story. It is the why justified by reporters with examples of who, what, where and when convenient to make their point. Scripture is of good report. The unerring word of God provides encouragement and strength to stand against the lies perpetuated throughout society via TV, radio, news, social media, and the like.
Virtue and praiseworthy things are hard to find these days. Living together to “try out” our relationship really means I don’t like you enough to make a commitment and I’m really looking for something better to come along. Commitments seem to be made just to break them.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done these exact things. As a matter of fact, I am twice divorced and married for the third time. Nothing virtuous if praiseworthy about that.
When someone comes clean about a lie they’ve been perpetuating, that’s praiseworthy. When someone stops what they are doing to help another, that is virtue. The greatest examples of virtue and praiseworthy behavior are found in scripture…the example of the life led by Christ. He came in flesh and was both God and man. He subjected himself to the experience of humanity. He was the epitome of virtue in action and He alone is worthy to be praised!
By meditating on these things, my mind has no room for the negativity of Satan. But in order to be able to meditate on these things, I need to be spending time with Him. Allowing Him to mold me. To break off pieces He finds do not help achieve the purpose for which He created can me. To learn more about Him so He can reveal His will to me and that I would have the strength to carry it out.
Each day, I must ask myself: What did I admire? What did I spend my time thinking about and doing? What words did I speak? Where did I stumble? Each day I ask God to purify my heart and to bring to mind these wonderful things to think upon.
What do you admire? What do you spend your time on?