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. —Philippians 4:8 NIV
A few years ago my family attended a session of family camp at the Flaming Pine Youth Camp in northern Minnesota. We enjoyed this enriching week immensely. We left camp spiritually energized and with many rich memories.
One memory which we cherish relates to a common practice amongst the young people. You see, if one of the counselors detected a lag in their collective disposition, he would bellow out the rafter-rattling cry: Attitude Check!
What followed was a brief, energetic cheer, which got everyone on their feet. This was a lighthearted but very effective way to get young and old alike to examine their attitudes. The young people loved it—older folks usually plugged their ears. Still, positive results seemed to come out of it.
I’ve been wondering lately: Who amongst us does not occasionally need to do a little soul-searching? If we take the time to have a check up from the neck up, might we find ourselves in need of an attitude adjustment? This vein of thought has led me straight to Philippians 4:8, one of my mother-in-law’s favorite verses. God has really gotten my attention with this little gem. Here, Paul’s inspired words reverberate across the centuries, urging us to dwell on positive, spiritual values—things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.
Clearly, this is more than a check list for developing a positive mental attitude. It seems to me more like a set of God-given filters, designed to eliminate unwholesome, detrimental thoughts—thoughts which could easily prevent us from experiencing an abundant life in Christ. For our perspective on life determines where we go in life—outlook determines outcome. What we dwell on is what we become. If we sow the seeds of negativity, we will reap a harvest of negativity.
No where is this more evident than in our interaction with others. Dwell on the shortcomings of friends and family members and relationship problems are just a blink away. The same is true of life in the Christian community at large. Where negative attitudes persist, our witness to others is diminished. Even if we don’t say it, literally, when our dispositions are sour we say to others, “We invite you to come and be miserable with us.? Also, when stinking thinking prevails, our efforts to live into our Kingdom calling in missional undertakings is likely to be stymied. Who wants to a Saturday serving along side of those who constantly put others down and pull us down with them? Additionally, how can we possibly come together to build one another up one day of the week, if we spend so much time during other days of the week putting others down? I’d better leave it that. This is starting to sound a bit too negative!
The next time your countenance falls there probably won’t be anyone shrieking “Attitude check!” in your ear like the good folks way up north in Minnesota. Let’s hope not! Even so, perhaps it would be good for each of us to take a little time out this week, resorting to a place suitable for introspection and prayer. Here we could ask: Do I need an attitude check? Would the things I ponder and propound pass through the Philippians 4:8 filter? Perhaps we should not ask such a generic question. We probably should not let ourselves off so easily. Maybe our thought question should be more specific. Something like: Am I dwelling on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy?
© Bill Williams