"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you" (Philippians 4:8-9).
Imprisoned when he wrote this line in a letter to the Philippian church, Paul’s message couldn’t be any clearer. He was a man who had experienced much, but refused to allow his experience to change his reality. Prison wasn’t his reality. Jesus was his reality. Prison was only his situation. He had been beaten and bruised with his personal freedoms violated and removed. After having served God faithfully and without complaint for many years, he was being treated and presented as one of the deviants of society. If anyone had had a justifiable cause to become bitter, angry, or even resentful, Paul would have been a prime candidate.
“Think on these things…” Paul wrote that each individual, especially those who have surrendered their souls, their minds, hearts, wills, and emotions, to Jesus, had a choice in HOW they faced or responded to what they experienced. As a man who had become more than familiar with the pains of injustice still chose to think on things that were pure, true, noble, and the like. He wasn’t about to allow a soldier or a sacrilegious Pharisee distract his focus on all God was or had been in his life. Jesus was still on the throne and his thoughts were top evidence to that truth. If he had allowed it, he could have easily complained, protested, stirred up much emotion, and called for a revolution. He had gripes to air, bones to pick, and scores to settle, and yet he encouraged every reader that would ever set their eyes on this letter to consider the greater truth.
You have a choice in everything you face. Even when all freedom is taken away, how you respond in your mind will always be a choice that only you can make. Paul continued, even in the midst of his own persecution, to discover any and every aspect of his life that would bring honor to God, rather than focusing on the negative. What you focus on will always be reproduced in your attitude. Paul didn’t ignore what he was facing, he only chose not to allow it the power to control how he faced it. He chose to honor Jesus and to trust God in every situation. He showed that by how he responded.
Trusting God in every circumstance will be evident in your life by how you respond when things go against the grain of your expectations. Are you easily riled up? Do you have to fix everything that seems, at least in your mind, to be wrong? Are you quicker to jump to assumptions and conclusions than you are to pray, release it, and see the best in those around you? Is it easier for your to point out all that is wrong rather than to see anything that is right? If the answer is yes, then your definition of trusting God is less than compatible with the example shown by the imprisoned Paul.
When faced today with any situation that would try to wrangle your focus onto something that serve as the battle cry to your emotional responses, choose to set your mind fully on Jesus. Let His word of truth be guide that leads you. If Paul could find the positive in the worst of situations around him, isn’t it possible to see the best in what you’re facing? Never allow the enemy to take away a peace and a joy that God has given you, especially with those people He has divinely placed in your life. There will be things that you cannot change, but don’t let them change you. Let God use those things to bring about a change in you that reflects His love, His grace, and His presence. Think on THESE things.