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FFC2024 - Blog Post - Janaury 26

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness[d] be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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 excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned[e] and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. - Philippians 4:4-9

Have you ever been around a thoroughly positive and inspiring person? I'm not talking about what we might call a Pollyannaish person (someone naively or excessively optimistic against all reason). I'm talking about someone living realistically but with a prevailing and focused trust in God's goodness and grace. Their mindset remains decidedly on the excellent and praiseworthy. People like that fill us; they put proverbial wind in our sails. Inspiring people speaking inspiring words encourage, strengthen, brighten, and enthuse us. They might acknowledge hard truths, but they do it in an ultimately hopeful and healing way. 

The scriptures repeatedly extol and praise the power of good and gracious words. For example, in Proverbs 16:24, we read, "Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body." Words like these and those who speak them brighten and bolster our lives for the better. 

Now let me ask another question: have you ever been around a thoroughly negative and dispirited person? Maybe they were hypercritical, grumblers, complainers, whiners, fault-finders, and grudgeholders. Perhaps they were cynical and sarcastic, taking the dimmest view of others and situations. Then again, maybe they were constantly stoking controversy, drama, and division, turbulent people creating turbulence wherever they went. People like that drain us; they take the wind right out of us. They might raise legitimate concerns but in a harmful and defeating way, not with hope and healing. 

The Spirit repeatedly warns us against this kind of speech. For instance, consider the Apostle Paul's inspired instruction to the Ephesians: "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear" (4:29). 

So, what type of person should we be as followers of Jesus Christ? The answer is obvious. Christians have every reason to be people of positive, inspiring thoughts, words, and deeds. 

This section of Paul's letter to the Philippians contrasts two mindsets, one characterized by negative forms of thinking, specifically worry and anxiety, and another with a positive bias and orientation toward rejoicing and resting in what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy (c.f., 4:6-7). According to Paul, renewing our minds toward trusting in the Lord and focusing on His goodness is the mindset we should cultivate. This pattern of thinking and speaking empowers us to experience and enjoy the peace of God ourselves. It compels us to express the same toward others. As we do, hope and healing soon follow. What a blessing to us and those we love!