I’ve mentioned before that my favourite text of Scripture is found in St. Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi. It reads, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, Rejoice! Let your moderation be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, my brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are right, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, think on these things. Do those things which you have also learned and received and heard and seen in me. And the God of peace shall be with you.”
These words have meant a lot to me over the years. I have read them countless times and I still read them often. In these word’s St. Paul is telling us to always look and see that “The glass is half full” and then act with that in mind. It seems that some of us, me included, are born with the predisposition to do the exact opposite of what Paul advises. We tend to look at the down side of every thing. We can’t see the good because we automatically focus in on what is wrong, or on what is less than perfect in a given situation.
We live in a fallen world where sin abounds, but we also live in a world created by God. God has entered this world in the person of Jesus Christ, and in so doing He has overcome sin and the devil. In the future, Christ will return and but an end to sin and death forever, but in the mean time we are to go about our lives looking for the good in things (in light of Scripture) and doing good.
We can all make excuses for not following the advice of St. Paul and think, “he would not have said that if he were in my position.” But that’s not true. Paul, by most of our standards, had a very hard life. He was often beaten, he was beaten so bad that he was left for dead on at least one occasion, and he was often imprisoned because of his service to Jesus and His Gospel.
In the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippian church, we learn that he is “in chains” and a prisoner. At the time he writes this letter, Paul has been a Roman prisoner for four or five years. In his letter he is not giving us some “pie in the sky” advice while every thing is going his way.
He tells us to, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, Rejoice!” while he is a prisoner in chains. He tells the church at Philippi, “whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are right, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, think on these things” even though he is a prisoner at Rome and he could be sentenced to death.
Paul’s words to the Philippians are also God’s command to us. We are to think Christ’s thoughts and Paul’s words tell us how to do that.