July 9, 2014.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
As Paul is finishing up his letter to the church at Philippi, he gives some final instructions as his manner is. Yesterday we looked at a similar list of instructions that if we just read through the chapter quickly, we might miss. I think this passage holds a lot of insights that we can utilize in our walk with Christ to grow in the faith. I often throw a pity party of how hard it is for me, or how much power my desires have over me, and indeed it is hard to fight against them; but I don’t think that I am giving God enough credit when I say these things. I think I am too easily letting myself off the hook and blaming the tempter. There is no doubt that the devil walks about as a roaring lion seeking who he can devour, but I believe we play a major part in the sins that we allow ourselves to commit.
So often, though, do we focus on the bad and never give a practical way of fighting against the bad and changing our lives. Do we have such practical instruction? Read the above passage again, and meditate on it for a while.
“Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, Or desire his delicacies; For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink! ”But his heart is not with you.”
You know the saying you are what you eat? Well, I believe we could put a spiritual spin on it and say you are what you think. Most of the sin in our lives spans from a problem of the heart. It starts at the heart and then culminates into the sinful action when it takes root. Indeed, James puts it this way:
“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”
We are carried away by our own lusts. It is a matter of the heart first. So, Paul gives us a discourse on how to avoid this enticement. Whatsoever things that are holy, pure, true, honorable, ect., think on these things. If you were to take any given day and number the times you thought about bad things, not even sin or lust necessarily, though this would be included, and then number the good, honorable and holy things you thought about, which side would win out? I’m afraid for many of us, the bad would well outnumber the good, though I can only speak for myself.
Why is that? I honestly think it has something to do with the culture we live in and the amount of emphasis that is placed on drama. Everyone loves some drama, even if we claim to hate it. Drama makes life interesting. Unfortunately, drama is usually rooted in bad things, things that we shouldn’t be thinking about. We think on the lust, get enticed and when lust has conceived, it brings forth death. Spiritual death.
You can see this progression with King David when he commits his infamous sin with Bathsheba. The first few actions he takes that sets him off course are not even sins, per-say. He doesn’t go out to battle when it came time for kings to go our to battle. Sin? Probably not. A bad idea? Probably. He happens to get up in the middle of the night and walk on his roof top. Sin? Probably no. A bad idea? Probably. I’ll let you read the rest of the story from the suggested reading for today, but as you do, notice the slow progression of actions/sins that David commits before murdering Uriah. It wasn’t out of the blue. Sin works the same way in our lives today.
So what are we to do? Refer to the opening passage. Then read it again. Perhaps a third time. Whatsoever things are true, honorable, just, pure, commendable, lovely, excellent or worthy of praise, think on these things. I know that with the help of God, we can make it. Think on these things.
Suggested Daily Reading: II Samuel 11-12, Philippians 4, James 1.
God be with us.