Think about these things
Finally, brothers and sisters, 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
Even though this command is given in the context of peacemaking (Philippians 4:2 sets the stage) it had always been presented to me as something that I should do to combat impure thoughts whether they are lustful, violent, or something of that nature. Obviously, the context of the command begs to differ with that, but I also am finding a broader application as well. It is so easy for me to dwell on the bad stuff that has happened to me; easy to complain about how this, that, or the other thing is unfair. Now there is a time and a place for those thoughts. If I do not recognize and injustice or a sin that should not be overlooked then I will not fight for the right thing nor will I engage in the ministry of confrontation.
But there comes a time and place for me to, literally, put these types of thoughts out of my mind lest they become dishonoring to God. I may have been sinned against by an unsaved relative or even a brother or sister in Christ. These things will happen. What cannot happen is for me to continually dwell on them as if these are the right, pure, lovely, true things that this verse is talking about. But, it seems to me, that there is something else in this as well.
Not everything that happens to me is right, pure, lovely, admirable, etc. If, for example, I am mistreated or if there is a disease that I am afflicted with, these are a result of the Fall and I cannot characterize the Fall as a pure and lovely thing. However, what I can be assured of is this: what God is doing in my life as a result of these false, ignoble, wrong, sullied, ugly, loathsome, vulgar, or condemnable things is promised to be something truly amazing...something other-worldly and maybe even be bordering on the miraculous.
Where does God want me to direct my thoughts? What does God want on my lips? Every injustice that has ever been flung at me? Every unfair thing that I have ever encountered? A disparagement or judgement of the people that may have perpetrated the act? Hardly. In fact I believe that if I constantly go to those places then I am, pure and simple, an instrument of Satan and partake of a nature that is nothing short of hellish. I need to focus on the Giver of good gifts and participate in and meditate on the true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy things that He is doing in my life as these wrong and ugly things impact me.
Dare I re-frame them as good and lovely gifts? Maybe...because they, at some level, truly are.