Bible Reading: Philippians 4:1-13
When I started to play tennis, it didn’t take long to appreciate how deliberate and intense the game is!
One of the things that particularly hit was that in tennis, every single hit you make is a different shot and must be deliberately worked out. Even if they look similar, a tennis player would tell you how that he is constantly resetting before each new shot. He’s constantly trying to reset his feet and body positioning to be in the best position possible for the next shot. And then he’s constantly trying, every here and there, to reset his grip on the racquet, so that it’s freshly firm and best positioned for the next shot.
Paul wasn’t a tennis coach, but I think it’s that same principle he’s throwing at the Philippians in our reading today.
We all have tendencies to slip because we walk in slippery terrain. Paul is especially showing the Philippians about how our minds can drift.
We can set purity, faith, audacity, love and hope around our minds on Sunday- but by midweek, the mind is so well able to be filled with anxiety, fear, immoral thoughts and negativity.
And I think the secret Paul shares with the Philippians is one that we must all master.
How is the spirit of your mind at this ’ember’ part of the year? Is it still full of faith and vision and hope like it was at the start of the year, or is it weighed down with frustration, negativity and anxiety?
We must constantly be refocusing our minds! Our minds have a strong tendency to drift.
Sometimes, for me it’s not even about time lapses, it’s my mind drifting right in the middle of my moments. Have you like me ever felt like a pendulum? Or like Peter walking on water in one moment with a faith focus and then right in the next moment sinking with a fear focus?
That’s why it’s so important that as we look to the second half of the year, we’re thinking about how to keep our minds refocused over and over again. The focusing of my mind must not just be a historical thing I did, but an ongoing thing I do
Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. Philippians 4:8 AMP
There you have it! Think continually. Center your mind on.
Paul is showing that we aren’t supposed to be reactive about what’s on our mind but creative. We shouldn’t merely be reacting to what’s already in, we must be creating what we want to be in.
And we all know them in our contexts. Paul describes them as the honourable, worthy of respect, right, God’s word based, pure and wholesome, peaceful, admirable and of good repute, excellent and worthy of praise.
My simple challenge for you is to think of these things in the systems that create them- if these were really to be the kind of thoughts you were thinking in every moment, how can you set yourself up for that?
What habits and practices should you strengthen yourself in? Which people should you be closer to? What handles should you unfollow and which ones should you follow? What status updates should you mute? Which places do you really need to keep away from? Where do you need to be more often? Who do you need to speak with more often?
It’s not far fetched. If you answer all those sincerely, you have your Philippians 4:8 in your own personalized version and the rest of this year will be the part where you’ll be mindful of God’s amazing plans and purpose on your life!