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We live in a world that tends to focus on the negative. As an architecture student from the university of Kentucky, I know a little about what is called a critical review.
I used to spend weeks including several sleepless nights preparing a set of drawings to clearly reflect my design ideas, only to have them ripped to shreds by my peers and professors. And it wasn’t just my ideas but everyone. The belief was that we needed to be able to defend ourselves against an onslaught of negativity.
“What’s wrong with it is all that matters here,” they used to say. They focused so much on the wrong that sometimes we forgot what was actually working…
The apostle Paul had reason to focus on what was wrong in the Philippian church. Paul was in prison and had gotten word that certain people were preaching the gospel out of selfish ambition to add to Paul’s suffering. Basically, people were preaching the good news to spite Paul.
Paul could have gotten angry. He could have cursed and spit; spent the little communication he had out of the prison in angry tirade against these people. But instead of concentrating on the negative, he chose to look at the positive and rejoice in it: Jesus Christ was being preached and that glorified Paul’s soul.
Now don’t get me wrong, God wants us to be discerning — we need to know good from bad — but He doesn’t want us to focus on the bad so much that we become critical or discouraged.
Even in circumstances that are less than ideal (Paul was writing from prison), we can find something good because in times of trouble God is still at work. Even when the darkness of the world blinds us to the joy and hope of Christianity, we know that the light of Jesus Christ will always shine upon us!
As De Dee Hahn once said:
“The eyes of faith when fixed on Christ
“Give hope for what’s ahead,
“But focus on life’s obstacles
“And faith gives way to dread.”
So make a commitment this week to focus on the positive. Trust God in all situations and watch the joy pour right into your life!
Grace and peace in the name of Jesus Christ be with you all!
The Rev. Drew Oakley is pastor of the Carrollton United Methodist Church in Carrollton, Ky.