What does your mind dwell on when it’s free to wander? You need to realize that the things you focus your attention on go into your heart, and eventually, if not taken care of, will come out in your actions.
We’re now getting to the concluding thoughts in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. There are some simple truths that we all need to follow. No matter what our calling, these are all a part of God’s will for us.
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:15-18
The first is to treat others correctly. Our human nature wants to retaliate when we’re wronged. But that’s not the way of the Spirit.
The Greek language of this verse says to watch or stare at so that nobody pays back wrong for wrong. It’s all about what you focus on. If you stare at and rehearse what’s been done to you, then you’ll eventually try to “even the score”.
The problem with this is that it doesn’t solve anything. The retaliation will simply get passed back and forth like a bad potato. It’s God’s will for us to bring peace into these types of situations. Only then will people notice that there’s a different Spirit in us than what’s normally in the world.
We’re also encouraged to always be joyful. It’s a word that simply means to be glad. Again, it’s all about what you focus your attention on.
There are those who say that they can’t be cheerful because they’ve had such a hard life. We need to realize that very few people get through life with no pain. Those who are miserable about their lives are focusing on the struggle.
Please understand, you may have had a hard life. But the key word is LIFE. You’re alive. And in Christ, you have the hope of a great future. Scripture is very clear that in Christ our past never determines our future – no matter how bad it looks. You need to be dwelling upon God’s Word, His promises to you, and His ability fulfill His plan in you.
The next is to pray continually. Paul is actually telling us to worship uninterrupted. I think that this is one of the most important parts of being cheerful.
Paul doesn’t mean for us to continually be asking God for things. That’s not the spirit of worshipful prayer. He’s talking about being conscious of the fact that the Holy Spirit is constantly with us.
It’s like being with a close friend. In a close relationship, nobody dominates the conversation. And sometimes you don’t need to talk at all, you’re just glad that you’re experiencing something together. That’s what true, uninterrupted worship is all about.
Finally, we’re to always be thankful. Remember, we don’t have to thank God FOR everything, but IN everything there’s always something to be thankful for. It might be as simple as thanking God for His presence with you. If we focus on finding something to be thankful about, we’ll have a much better attitude about our situation.
Finally, brothers, 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
It’s clear from Scripture that what we dwell on will determine our attitude, and what we receive from life.
Question: How has your thought life affected your attitude – both good and bad?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017