How many times did you hear the phrase, "Eat your broccoli, its good for you"? I suppose every parent in the world has said this to a child at some point, perhaps many times.
In the past few months I have been dieting (doctor's orders) and I have had to relearn this lesson. I can eat lots of green vegetables, but must stay away from starches. Once again, even though a grown man, I am being reminded to eat what is good for me.
This is a good principle to apply in our walk with God. There are some simple things we can do that are just good for us. Sometimes we forget to do them, or we let Satan distract us form doing them. As with our diet, we get into bad habits that feel good at the moment, but are not good for us at all. When that happens, we have to go back to what is good for us. Listen to what Paul says concerning what is good for us.
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and suppliction with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you" (Phil. 4:4-9). The apostle begins by telling us to be filled to overflowing with joy. Then he gives us some practical ways to do that.
Be Kind -- Its Good For You: -- Everyone should see our forbearing spirit. This can also be translated as "gentle" or patiently kind. The idea is that everyone we encounter should experience a gentle, kind attitude from us. We should be kind to others in all situations.
Too often we let bad things derail us. We get short with others, treating them poorly. We let the frustrations of life keep us from being nice to the people around us. Paul tells us to go the other way. Regardless of circumstances or frustrations, we should be kind to the extent that everyone can see our forbearing spirit.
This sort of kindness does two things. First, it forces you to focus on others and not dwell on your problems. Second, it helps you feel better as you encounter others, since they feel better being around you. When you smile, people smile back. So, be kind to others no matter what you are going through, its good for you.
Be Content -- Its Good For You: -- Next, Paul tells us to give up our anxiety. Instead, we can experience inner peace. Too often we let worry absorb our thoughts. We worry about money, about our children, about work, about health. Sometimes we are anxious because we are faced with tough choices. Paul says we should turn our anxiety over to God.
Instead of worrying, we should learn to be content. "Being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, 'I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,' so that we confidently say, 'The Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?'" (Heb. 13:5,6). We should be content with the income we have, the possessions we have, the simple things God blesses us with every day. "And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content" (1 Tim. 6:8).
Unlike those without faith, we should be content with what we have. That frees up a lot of energy we would waste on worrying. That calms us, relaxes us and rests us. You need to be content, its good for you.
Be Praying -- Its Good For You: -- The path to this inner peace or contentment is found in prayer. In fact, Paul teaches us that we are to pray about everything. There is nothing too big for God. There is nothing too small for God. Whatever struggles we have, we can take them, big or small, to the Lord in prayer. Whatever blessings we have, big or small we can thank the Lord in prayer.
The joy God promises, the inner peace we desire, only come to us when we spend time in prayer. Jesus did this. "And in the early morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there" (Mk. 1:35). If the Lord Jesus saw the need to spend time in prayer, even if it meant getting up early to pray, we should set aside time to go to the Father as well.
"Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thes. 5:16-18). Notice again that joy and prayer are connected. It seems obvious that we lose our joy, our happiness, when we fail to pray. The key for us is to spend time in prayer, giving our anxieties to God. Then we can have the joy and peace we want. So, pray, its good for you.
Be Positive -- Its Good For You: -- Next, Paul tells us to focus our attention on positive things. We are to think about what is true and noble, what is right and pure, what is lovely and admirable, what is excellent and praiseworthy. Too often we focus on the negative. We see what is missing in our lives and miss the beauty, the blessings that surround us. When we look at the bad side of things, we will not be joyful or content. We will dwell on what is wrong with life.
It may seem odd, but God always looks at the good side. When man first sinned, God saw the dawn of a new day, not the end of His relationship with man. "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel" (Gen. 3:15). At the scene of the first sin, God tells Satan that Jesus would come and redeem man. He promised, way back then, that good would win.
What is amazing about this is that God keeps on seeing the good in people even when they seem so evil. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (Jno. 3;16). God could look at a wicked, rebellious world, and still love it enough to let His Son die for us.
In fact, God does this with the worst of sinners. "It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all" (1 Tim. 1:15). God saw something in Saul few Christians would acknowledge. While this man is persecuting Christians, God is preparing to forgive him and use him to take salvation to the Gentiles. God sees the positive in people.
So, make it your habit to see the good around you. Even in our wicked world, there are so many good things going on. Hurricane relief reminds us that people are still generous. Holiday food drives remind us that people do care for less fortunate. The horrors of Sept. 11 remind us that people are still courageous and will risk their lives to save others. In spite of the evil in our world, we can still find much positive to focus on. So, learn to be positive, its good for you.
Be Imitating -- Its Good For You: -- Paul encourages us to find a good example and follow it. The Philippian Christians knew Paul well. They knew his love for them and the lost. They knew of his dedication to the cause of Christ. They knew his willingness to sacrifice for the body. So, Paul tells them to imitate him. What this meant was what Paul says to the Corinthians, "Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1). As Paul modeled his life after Jesus, so should we model our lives after him.
Even today you can find good examples to follow. There are decent, godly people that God has put around you. That is why it is so vital to assemble with the body, so you learn from others how your life can be lived. "Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith" (Heb. 13: 7). Learn to imitate those whose faith and life are powerful, its good for you.
Be Thankful -- Its Good For You: -- As Paul mentions prayer, he adds a little phrase that can easily be overlooked. Our prayers are to be filled with thanksgiving. As we unburden ourselves to God, we should also take time to thank Him for all He has done. This builds our joy, calms our troubled spirits, and helps us focus on the positive. Being thankful is vital if you want to be happy.
Again, as we complain about life and its injustices, our hearts will be weighed down. If you wan joy and peace you must learn to give thanks constantly. At meals, in worship, in daily conversation we should be thanking God for all He has done, all He is doing, and all He will do for us. Give thanks, its good for you.
Be Saved -- Its Good For You: -- These principles will help you even if you are not a Christian. But, if you want to experience the peace that passes understanding, you need to eredeemed by the blood of Jesus. You need to be cleansed of your sin. Paul teaches us to imitate him. Notice what he was told, and what he did. "And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name", "and he arose and was baptized" (Acts 22:16; 9:18b). Imitate Paul and be baptized into Christ today. You can be full of joy. Be saved, its good for you.
By David Thurman in Gospel Minutes, Vol. 55, No. 51, Dec. 22, 2006.
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