“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9
Isn’t it amazing how we as humans will latch onto all the bad news, the fear mongering, the conspiracy theories, the attacks on others, the arguing, the backbiting . . . and we don’t just read or watch it and go on . . . we dwell there . . . we feed on it . . . we dive deep into it . . . and we perpetuate it . . .
I’m as guilty as anyone, and I think we all have a tendency to justify dwelling on and sharing the “ugly” by saying we’re just being informed. But here’s the thing, I think it’s incredibly important to be informed, and I definitely think we are called to be truth and light. The bible tells us we are to “be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16) so, as I’ve said before, you’ll never find me buying into the a “denial of reality” theology. But I think it’s important to remember that reality isn’t always what we see (or watch or read) directly in front of our faces.
So in sharing, in speaking, in writing, and even more so in choosing where I’m going to dwell, where I’m going to live my life, I’m more and more convicted that I need to question myself and those giving the “information” before I decide to camp there.
- Is it true? Strong’s (227) actually has “true in fact” as one of the usages of this word. Yesterday, I was asked what a “false fact” is, and I explained that when I was teaching we called them “nonfacts” . . . information, presented as fact that in reality is false. Basically, a lie. And the world is full of people, from every walk of life, political persuasion, and even religion, presenting false facts, lies, as facts and truth because it is to their benefit (just turn on any . . . yes, I said “any” news station and you’ll see this). We have to be cautious in what we buy into and what we believe, and if I can’t verify it’s truth, then I need to be very careful in putting it out there and absolutely cannot let it become my dwelling place.
- Is it noble? Even if it’s true, is it noble? One of the words used for noble in Strong’s Concordance (4586) is “honorable”. Is what I’m saying and dwelling in honorable?
- Is it just? Strong’s (1342) says “righteous” and “correct”. Is what I’m saying, writing, sharing, and believing both “righteous” and “correct”?
- Is it pure, lovely, and of good report? Does it have virtue and is it praiseworthy? All pretty self explanatory. And honestly, not always easy.
So what if it’s not a “yes” to all of these things . . . starting with truth but building from there? Should I acknowledge it? I can and may have to. I acknowledge, that right now there is a very real pandemic that can be deadly and dangerous for many. I acknowledge that there are things we need to do to be cautious and considerate and to protect ourselves and others. But at the same time, I refuse to sit and dwell on the numbers, the news reports, and the statistics. And when the fear starts to creep in, and it does for me as it does for many others, I return to Psalm 91 over and over again. That is where I choose to dwell.
Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world where sin is rampant and “bad” is often the reality we see. But acknowledging that reality does not mean ruminating and dwelling on it, whether it be a news story, a conspiracy theory (which y’all stop with the conspiracy theories . . . please . . . they’re not healthy for you mentally, emotionally, and dare I say, spiritually . . .) whatever it’s source may be.
Jesus himself said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33) . . . the “world” where everything is not always going to go our way . . . where in the natural things are not always going to look “good” . . . where no matter what we face, come pandemics, economies crashing, natural disasters, or whomever is in office (seriously, stop making yourself sick over this because guess what? No matter who is in office Jesus is still King . . . we say it . . . now act like it) . . . Jesus is the ONE that has overcome it all, and that is where our focus must land, over and over, time and again.
These words from one of my favorite songs have been running through my head, on repeat these past couple of days, “Give me Jesus, Give me Jesus, You can have all this world, But give me Jesus . . .”*. Start to finish, whatever comes or doesn’t, through Him, we are more than conquerors, and I’ll set up camp with Him any day.
Copyright 2020, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author.
*From the African American Spiritual, Give Me Jesus