“But it’s the truth . . . .” After God’s gentle “Ahem . . . ” this morning, I realize that, just because something is true about another person, I don’t need to “dwell on” it. I’ve been repenting of harboring resentment against my husband (and thanking God for bringing up those things I need to repent of) and this morning the Holy Spirit reminded me of Philippians 4:8 : “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, pure, lovely, of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”
In inspiring Paul, God didn’t stop at “Whatever is true . . . think on these things,” because focusing our thoughts on something and justifying our dwelling there only because it is true, can be a hurtful, harmful thing. Do I want God to remember what is true about me? Yes, but . . . not the truth that I can be resentful, not the truth that I thought uncharitably about my neighbor yesterday, not the truth that I have been overly concerned about my gray hair . . . . I want God to dwell on the truth that I am his, saved by grace, the righteousness of God because of Jesus. I’m sure that’s why God told me (us) to press on beyond just the true to think of what is lovely, honorable, pure, and right about other people.
Case in point (and isn’t God good to give me a fresh example of what he’s telling me): this morning Chip asked why I put a yard sale sticker on the red ice chest that he’s commented has very user-unfriendly handles. He asserted, “I hope you aren’t getting rid of it just because I said I don’t like it, and then you’ll complain that I was the reason you got rid of something you use.” I replied that I could use our better ice chest, so selling this one was fine. Lurking in my thoughts, of course, was the truth that years ago he’d basically given away my Aunt’s white cast iron patio chair, table and love seat without so much as a questioning glance my way, just because he thought it “wouldn’t survive our move.”
That is true. It is also true that he was thoughtless: he didn’t give a thought to my feelings or desires. We’ve covered that ground and he apologized, sort of (or so it sounded to me!) and I forgave him (sort of? Did I truly?). But it’s also something he did that he can’t undo no matter how hard he wished he could. It is true, and I could have brought it up in reply (retort?), but focusing on that truth would have condemned him all over again and started an argument, dragging a past conflict in to spoil today. There are other truths about him that I could and would do better to dwell on: he moved back here because of me, he painted the kitchen while I was in Hong Kong last year and remodeled the laundry room while I was in Thailand this year, he thinks about me every day, he bought me roses for our anniversary, he’s generous to others, he’s a creative problem-solver . . . . lots of positive, pure, honorable, excellent, praise-worthy truths I could think on.
This fits hand-in-glove with “. . . love keeps no record of wrongs. “ (1 Corinthians 13:5). Wrongs other people have done to me are facts, that’s true – at least assuming I didn’t mis-take their intentions. But those wrongs aren’t the whole truth about anyone. A record is something that can be written, but in “ancient times” three decades ago, a record was also a flat vinyl disc with grooves cut into it which created sound by transmitting vibration with amplification. A record was something you played over and over again because you liked the sound it produced – “Groovy!” But how many times do I replay a record of another person’s wrongs simply because, for some perverse reason, I enjoy the sound? Not groovy – grievous,and I’m sure it grieves the Holy Spirit when I/we do.
I desperately need to relate to others out of more than “nothing but the truth.” Do you, too? I suspect God is just waiting for us to ask him to show us more than what is true about the people we know and love. Here’s a request you might like to ask God along with me:
Jesus, help me today. Cut new grooves in the vinyl of my mind with truths that are true AND pure, honorable, right, lovely, excellent, and praise-worthy, and help me to replay those things so I build others up rather than tear them down, destroying precious relationships and lives in the process. Thank you that you’re moving me in healthy directions to bring healing, restoration, and goodness to the lives I touch. Thank you, Jesus, for touching me with your true, pure, honorable, lovely, excellent, praise-worthy love. Amen!
copyright Rose Jackson 5/22/08 You may share this with others, but you may not reproduce or quote this without permission of the author. Same goes for all previous posts – share, just don’t use for profit.