Philippians 4:8 “…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 is the verse I read this morning. And I have read that verse many times, but this morning those words gave a new promise. Let me share something that happened recently to us:
As I wrote in my random list, we are in the midst of a new career, a new town, new home, etc. So we are church hunting. Not much fun actually. I could go off on a couple of rabbit trails here and tell some interesting stories about church hunting, but I will try to keep to my point of “the verse” 🙂
A couple of months ago, we attended a local church. Now keep in mind, this is the area where we grew up — we have “come back to our roots”. So whenever we go anywhere, we are likely to see someone from that other life 35+ years ago. During the sharing time of the service, we were introduced as visitors. As our names were given, we politely shook hands with the people around us and were warmly welcomed.
The next week we visited that church again and when we arrived, Jon went to hang up his coat and I went into the auditorium and took my seat. The elderly lady sitting behind me tapped me on the shoulder. She said, “I think your husband was in my son’s wedding! I recognized his name last week.” “Really?”, I said, but thinking Jon has only been in one wedding other than his own. “Who is your son?”, I asked. She told me his name, and I smiled. Jon was not in his wedding, however, they were best friends in high school. So I thought, ‘this is great, Jon will love talking to her’. But before I could actually finish that thought, she says, “He’s gotten old!! Really old! I called my son and told him I sat behind you last week, and how old he’s gotten.” I smiled awkwardly. I didn’t really know how to answer that. I was about to explain that Jon had a heart attack and had been through some health issues recently. But just then, Jon walked in to sit beside me. “I know you”, she says. “I called my son and told him how old you look. He doesn’t look any near as old as you”. Wow.
What do you say to that? By this time, several people around us were listening, and everyone was at a lost for words or a proper response. Fortunately, the piano began to play, and everyone stood to sing. I wish that had been the end of it… but after the service, she made a few more comments as we left. I think by then she was beginning to understand that she had overstepped the boundaries of polite conversation.
“…whatever is good, noble, pure, lovely, admirable…. think on those things”. The verse says think on these things. Ponder them. hmm, so maybe that means when someone does something that angers me, what do I think? When someone is dressed “differently”, what do I think? When someone is looking older than when I last saw her, where do I allow my thoughts to go? What is taking root?
I was talking to my niece this week, and she mentioned a couple people in her life who have “lost their filter”. She said, “they say whatever comes into their mind. What gives them that right?”. Thinking back to my experience, I smiled when she said that.
Will I too, some day, say whatever comes into my head? Maybe my mind will not be quick enough to process what IS and IS NOT polite and acceptable conversation before I speak. Can I train my speech today? If I do not allow my thoughts to linger on the ugly, but turn those thoughts around quickly, and think on what is good about that person or situation, can I capture those thoughts and stop the rude, unpleasant ones from taking root and forming patterned responses for my “some day”?
Yes, maybe this verse is the key to not “losing the filter” as I grow older. This verse encourages good and uplifting responses — no matter what my age — because those will be the thoughts I have nurtured and chosen to ponder. What patterns of thought am I allowing? What am I thinking? No one knows but me for now….but someday it will be revealed!