Dustin Lair describes himself as a “husband, father of 7, small church pastor, retired church softball player and occasional pickup basketball superstar.” Dustin sent this to me, and frankly, with the tendency of the interwebs toward the negative, I thought it was helpful. Thank you sharing this, Dustin.
Philippians 4:8 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 anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things.
This my friends is one of those great coffee cup verses. I feel like some old lady somewhere in the world is cross-stitching this on an oven mitt right now. The problem with verses that become familiar is that sometimes the we lose the meaning over time or at least the gravity of what God is saying to us.
I want to share two things that have stood out to me lately about this verse.
1. God knows how the brain works
Duh, right? I’ve always read this verse as some mushy, sentimental verse encouraging me to always see the sunny side. It’s more than that. The hard truth is over time bad thought patterns can destroy your character, your witness, your family, your church and ultimately you.
There is a concept in brain science that says “What fires together, wires together”. This means that if you repeatedly respond to certain stimuli in the same way then your brain rewires itself. Like a dog wearing out a path in your backyard, bad thinking habits wear out paths in your brains. Paths that are just that easier to take the next time around. It becomes easier to worry, to stress, to become bitter because your thoughts are just travelling the beaten path.
How awesome is it that God understands brain science? He made the brain. When God tells us to think about certain things, He isn’t messing around. He understands the consequences of bad thought patterns. If we want to change who we are, we must change the way we think. We are “transformed by the renewing of our mind.” (Of course this is only made possible by the grace of God).
Christian you must learn to take every thought captive. Pastor, maybe you’re not addicted to porn which is been shown to rewire our brain, but maybe you’re obsessed with the size of your church or where the giving is at. Church member, your negative thinking is destructive to you and those around you.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Beware of what you set your mind on because that you will surely become.”
Of course he was just plagiarizing God, but that man is right on.
2. We should see the good in people too
Recently, I’ve realized this verse applies to how we see others as well. I’ve heard Matt Chandler say recently how we should be experts on our spouses’ strengths and not only their weaknesses. I have 7 children and I could sit and tell you all of their weaknesses in no time at all. I’m well acquainted with where they struggle, how they annoy, and what their sins are. I could do the same with my wife and most of the members of my church. I imagine you could do the same. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with everybody, maybe we should look at what’s right.
If you dwell on what is good it will change the way you see others. The people in your church are good people. There are a few crazies, but there are a bunch of good people with good qualities. Why is it that we dwell on what they are bad at? Why is it there are times that we can only see our spouse’s weaknesses?
I’m not advocating ignoring reality. You can’t be blind to other people’s faults. Edification sometimes includes tearing down to build back up right. I’m just suggesting that you choose to see more than just their faults. You’ll find that you start liking them more. If you’re in any kind of management position this will change the dynamics of your organization. Recognizing people’s strengths enables you to put them in positions where they will thrive. I believe that dwelling on the good will help you to love people better. I think that people might start liking you better too.