Think About Excellent Things
By Pam Hardenbrook
Finally, my brothers and sisters, always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things. Philippians 4:8
Jim and I were serving our first full-time pastorate in Bellingham, Washington, and had completed our first year. It was time for the church board to review Jim’s salary package. I think they were paying us $600 a month and a motion was on the table to raise the salary by $50 a month. We really could use the raise. We were renting a dumpy little house with hot and cold running mice, and our first baby was on the way. I wasn’t at the meeting, but Jim told me all about it afterwards.
One of the deacons on the board was a grouchy old miserly fellow. You could always count on this deacon to be negative and argumentative in most situations. Long story short, he convinced the board not to increase our salary.
After that board meeting, Jim came home hurt and angry. He had a fomenting dislike of this man, and I could see that it could ruin his ministry. So we prayed about it and came up with a plan based on Philippians 4:8. We decided to apply that teaching to our attitudes about that deacon. We began to look for any true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, excellent, and praiseworthy characteristics in him. It took some doing, but we came up with some. The deacon was faithful. He attended every worship service and event at the church. He was a hard worker and offered his muscle and expertise whenever something needed moving or fixing. We began to thank God for those attributes, but we also told him what we appreciated about him. I’d like to say that he became sweeter, kinder, and more generous, but that didn’t happen. What did happen was that WE became sweeter, kinder, and more generous toward him. His cantankerousness didn’t steal our joy.
Do you have a cantankerous person in your life? This Lenten season is a good time to examine your thoughts and attitudes. Try applying this passage to that person; focus on things in that person that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, or worthy of praise. Maybe God can use that troublesome person to transform and purify you.
Holy Lord, open my eyes to the true, noble, right and pure characteristics of people in my life. Instead of dwelling on negative things, help me to think about what is lovely and worthy of respect in the lives of others. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, give me the grace and boldness to speak of those things. To your eternal glory, amen.