There are a lot of challenging things going on in the world today, and the news keeps getting worse. There have been almost 700 000 deaths to coronavirus, millions of people have been affected by recent floods in India, a massive explosion in Lebanon has killed at least 137 people and injured about 5000, and the list goes on.
With all that’s happening, how are we supposed to deal with the words of the Apostle Paul in today’s scripture?
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.
It’s all very well for Paul to tell us that. He wasn’t facing a pandemic! No, but he was well-acquainted with hardship. He’d been whipped, stoned, shipwrecked and faced danger at every turn (see 2 Cor. 11:22–29). He even wrote this letter while imprisoned in Rome (Phil. 1:12–13). Yet he urged the believers in Philippi to focus on the things that were true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.
This was not some edict to ignore what was going on in the world. It was not a call to distract themselves with visions of hearts and bunnies. This was a plea from someone who had suffered, yet knew the other side of the story—the peace and joy that comes from focusing on the truth of God’s word and his promises. In the midst of a pandemic, there is still beauty if we choose to look for it.
Dear Lord, there is so much grim news at the moment and so much negativity around us. Please help us to focus on your truth and fill our minds with the things that are noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable. Help us to be a positive voice in a world of darkness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Q1 If we focus on the positive things noted in Philippians 4:8, does that mean we’re ignoring the reality of what’s happening in the world at the moment? Why or why not?
Q2 What two or three specific things could you focus on in the next week that would be true, noble, right, pure, lovely or admirable?