Where to Focus Your Attention

Where to Focus Your Attention

Philippians 4:8

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.

Isn’t that verse one of the most encouraging verses ever? It is simple, meaningful, and certainly goes right to the heart. It simply tells us where our mind and focus should be. Look at the list Paul gives. Notice that he tells us that this is where our mind and focus should be; “dwell on  THESE things.” 
 

whatever is true

whatever is honorable

whatever is just

whatever is pure

whatever is lovely

whatever is commendable

if there is any moral excellence

if there is any praise

So, here’s the question: Do YOU dwell on these things? Better question: Do I? Of course the answer is maybe, perhaps, no, uh … dunno. Many of us may indeed have these thoughts but dwelling involves permanence. And THAT may be the issue. But we all know that, typically, Philippians 4:8 does not define the dominance of our thinking.
So, is there a way to actually pull it off and let our minds dwell on these wholesome things continually? Well, here are two thoughts:

Remember Who Gave the Instruction

Who gave this word of encouragement to us? You may say, “Well Tony everyone knows that Paul wrote these words.” True. But Who gave the instruction? If you are a believer, as I am, that God breathed His thoughts into the Old and New Testament writers then you must conclude that these are the words of God Himself.
That being the case, wouldn’t it make sense that we would caution ourselves to not go negative and focus on the “stuff” of life? There is always going to be stuff. Don’t believe me? Just look around. Can we not assume that God has our best interests in mind by giving such a divine mandate? I think we would do well to look at the good that does exists in our world and our individual lives. It is just as easy to focus our attention there. Think of the blessings of life and just maybe you will become a blessing as a result. Someone who is at a low point of life may rise from self-pity and doubt because they saw your joy in the Lord. Hmmm, what a thought it is to actually consider Who actually gave the instruction.

Recognize the Value of the Instruction

 
Philippians 4:8
If you are my age or older you may remember a super cool Clint Eastwood movie that came out in 1966. It was called, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” It was simply a great flick for its time. Eastwood, of course, was the “good” guy in the movie. But he wasn’t really that good. He just could draw faster and shoot straighter. Still a cool flick though.
But the title of the flick actually gives us the three areas we can focus mental efforts.
  • The Bad – Many people spend so much time thinking about present personal woes or reflecting on past personal woes. This renders them virtually useless as people who may benefit others. No one is ever blessed be hearing someone moan and groan about all the things that stink about their lives. But still these folks tend to make this type of thinking the permanent reality of their lives.
  • The Ugly – These are people who go far beyond talking about their personal woes. These types of people focus on all that is ugly about the world. They focus on the local, national, and world news. They bombard their mind with the ugly realities of this world. They complain about politicians and the people who don’t share their personal political views. They rant about taxes, unemployment, health care, money, prices, the worthless older/younger generation. They are rarely happy. Does this person sound familiar? Does this mindset sound pleasing to the Lord?
  • The Good – I have met a few people in my life who are living expressions of Philippians 4:8. Not many though. But those I have met are never down. Please understand this. These folks face the same pain of life that all of us do. But they have chosen to Recognize the Value of the Philippians 4:8’s Instruction. These people just know that in spite of the bad and ugly stuff of life there is simply far more to be thankful for. They understand that God indeed had our best interests in mind when he gave us this particular instruction. They know that if they live out this mandate, then life simply will be more of a pleasure ride than a treacherous journey. The value of the instruction manifests itself in a peaceful life and a life that inspires, encourages, and blesses others.
So, what do you think?
I hope this post has been a blessing to you.
Tony Guthrie, PhD.
tguthriebiz@gmail.com
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