By Lynn Jones
An old man walked into an exclusive antique shop. He seemed strangely out of place. His clothes were old and faded but meticulously clean. His face and hands showed that he had known a life of hard work. After looking around for a while, he left. Ten days later he returned. He found a beautiful piece of old glass and made a down payment on it. Each week he made an additional payment until it was paid in full. The shopkeeper, curious about this unusual customer, asked what he would do with his purchase. He said, “I bought it for my little apartment. It isn’t much, but I bring to it, from time to time, only the best and most beautiful things that I can find.”
That’s a great philosophy of life—to bring to the place where you live the best and most beautiful things in life. That’s what Paul recommended. He wrote, “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” (Philip. 4:8).
What you think about has a lot to do with your happiness. Paul is a prime example of that. He wrote these words to the Philippians from a prison in Rome. Interestingly enough, however, he did not talk much about how difficult his confinement was. He didn’t gripe about the food or how hard the bed was. The theme of his letter to the Philippians was Christian joy! He chose not to dwell on bitterness, hatred, revenge, or anger. Instead, he dwelt on things that were true, noble, right, pure, and lovely.
We all have a choice. If we choose to do so, we can concentrate on everything that is wrong in our lives and make ourselves miserable. Do you know why? Because there always are things that are wrong. You will never find a perfect job, a perfect place to live, a perfect family, or a perfect church. They all have plenty that is wrong with them. But it is also true that in every job, every community, every home, and every church there are some good things, and we have to learn to concentrate on those.
An old story tells about a farmer who had lived on the same farm all his life. He had grown weary of it and had a realtor draw up a description of the property to use in selling it. Before listing it, the realtor read the description of the property to the old farmer. After listening to the description, the farmer told the real estate agent, “Changed my mind. I’m not going to sell. Been looking for a place like that all my life!”
Got a lot of problems in your life? Welcome to the crowd. Instead of concentrating upon the problems, how about concentrating on the things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable?
Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.