8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8, King James Version)
One of these days, I will be perfect. Until that happens, though, I suspect that the above verse will have to be continually brought to my mind.
When trials hit, as they invariably do, I find it helpful to use the above as a filter. For one thing, it is so easy to get down, so easy to get discouraged and so easy to lose sight of the goal that I find it easy to view things as worse than they really are. Even if I’m not magnifying the problems in my mind, it is still easy to forget God’s good promises in the midst of a storm.
So, the first thing is to focus on Jesus. He came to the earth as the embodiment of the promise from the Father. He came to show us the way, and He came as our Passover lamb.
Remember Jesus walking on the water? Peter asked if he could join Jesus on the water. As long as Peter kept his focus on Jesus, all was well. What happened when his focus was taken off of Jesus?
29And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
Once you have your focus on Jesus, then you start to see your problems in proportion to His goodness, His mercy and His love. In addition, you start to see your problems in relation to what He endured for you and I.
Then, once you’ve gained perspective, ask yourself if you are viewing your problems through the THJPLGVP filter.
1. Are you Truly looking at your problems, or are you being consumed about how you or others feel about them? For example, it can be easy to conclude, “Well, if God lets me go through this, then He must not care very much about me.” Get real! Jesus died for you. Jesus was tortured for you. Jesus was whipped and beaten for you. How much more can He love you than that?
2. Are you Honestly looking at the situation, or are you exaggerating some or all of your problems? It’s easy to focus on the negative. It’s just as easy to make things seem bigger than they really are. I’m speaking as an expert, of course. That thing that your wife did? Well, it is easy to forget that she does good things for you as well. Concerned about the direction your child is going in life? It’s easy to forget that they are also hard working, honest and have taken on a great deal of responsibility with little complaint. If they do good things for you, then you cannot Honestly conclude they do not care.
3. Are you looking at the situation in a Just, a fair and impartial, manner? If someone does something to you, and it still makes you angry after the T & H filters, then maybe it’s time for another opinion. It might even be time to ask the other person rather than assume they know the effect upon you.
4. Are you looking at your problems in a Pure manner? We are all contaminated by sin. Did you play a part in the trouble?
5. Are you looking at what is Lovely? Or, are you simply dwelling on the negative? Is there anything positive in the situation?
6. Are you ignoring things of Good Report? Maybe you yourself haven’t witnessed a positive to what’s going on, but perhaps you should ask others if they see a good side.
7. Is there any Virtue being displayed? What good things are others doing about the situation? What good thing can you do about it?
8. Finally, do not forget about Praise. Once you have uncovered the positives, give thanks to God for even the small things! “Thank” occurs 134 times in the KJV, and “praise” occurs 259 times! Do you think maybe they are important?
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds…
~ Jas 1:2 (NIV)
Not an easy task, but since when were we promised that being a Christian would be easy?