Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Is Your Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

                I have a problem in my mind. My mind goes to places I do not want it to go. It takes me down the paths of anger and resentment, it takes me to negative thinking, disappointed expectations, and so many other roads of negativity that I would much rather avoid. My biggest issue is resentment. The Lord God brought this to my attention last evening, through a book I have been reading. I have told you all about this book already, but I am going to tell you again. I encourage anyone who can find it to get it and read it! (After you have first read your bible, of course!) The book is called, “A Closer Walk” by Catherine Marshall. It was published by her husband after her death, and is comprised of all her journal entries from the time they were married to her departure home with Jesus.
                In the journal entry titled, “Lord, I Resent…” Catherine was struggling with the same issue as me.  “Thank God in everything- no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks; for this is the will of God for you (who are) in Christ Jesus…” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMPLIFIED. Catherine writes of her much resentment, her health, her lack of social graces (as she puts it) her inability to get good night’s sleep, just to name a few. She states that she has deep resentments in her life, and that the Lord wants to deal with her in these areas. As I read her words, I realized that I too have resentments that are hindering my walk with Jesus as well as my relationships with my husband, family and brothers and sisters in Christ.
                Catherine writes, “I am to praise God for all things, regardless of where they seem to originate. Doing this, He points out, is the key to receiving the blessings of God. Praise will wash away my resentments. I’ve known this, accepted it, and even written about praise. But as I began praising Him yesterday, my efforts were wooden. Then came these thoughts: I was to ignore my feelings and act on the principle. I was to do it despite the lack of joy- simply because God told me to. True praise grows out of the recognition and acknowledgement that in His time God will bring good our of bad…..(Romans 8:28)”
                As I pondered on her words, and prayed and asked the Lord about my resentments this morning, I was led to a passage of scripture that deals with my mind directly. I am one of those women who, while sweeping her floor, begin to list off all the things that no one in my family will ever help with. I begin to go over in my mind the lack of help I get around the house, from my husband and my children. I begin to list off in my head all the things that are “wrong” with everyone else in my family and in my friends. The only good thing that comes out of that type of thinking is that my floor gets a good scrubbing because all my vigorous anger comes out in my sweeping and mopping!
                Philippians 4:8 tells us that “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.” I have read this verse over and over- I used to have a wall plaque with this written on it and hanging up in my house. But until today, I never really understood the reason why God would tell us to do this, to think upon these things. Me, being the word hound that I am, had to go and look through each word that I am to think about.
                First, Paul tells us that we are to think about things that are true. This is really simple, there is no hidden meaning here- true is truth. What is true is that Christ Jesus died for me. He loves me and He desires to be with me. He has called me righteous, justified me, and sanctified me by His blood. We need to think upon the truth of God, at all times. Secondly, Paul tells us to think about things that are noble. Noble is referring to the character of a person or deeds, whether they are honorable. When I begin to focus on the negative aspects of people and deeds, I am no longer thinking about the noble, but have allowed my mind to wander down the wrong path, and that is a dangerous road indeed.
                Thirdly we are to think upon the just in this world. Now, for me, there is not a whole lotta justice out there. But God is just. Just is another word used for right, or righteous. It means that whatever is in a straight way, we are to think about this. We know that God is right, and He is just. When your mind wants to take you down the path of injustices, stop it and turn it around to think upon the One who is Just above all others.
                Now, we move onto thinking about things that are pure and lovely. Pure means “pure from every fault”. This one is hard for me, because I happen to be my own worst critic, and I tend to be harsh and critical on those I love. When we find faults in others and we do not dismiss them, we allow them to become resentments in our daily lives. These resentments turn into anger and hurt, disappointments and these thoughts take us into the negative instead of the blessings. When I find a fault in someone, I need to let it go and seek what is lovely about them. Instead of focusing on what they have done that is wrong, I need to take the next step and focus on what is pleasing about this person.
                There is a song that this remind me of, it is called “Give me Your eyes” by Brandon Heath. He is asking the Lord to help him see people the way that God sees people.   God looks upon us with delight, He desires we do the same with all who cross our paths, no matter what they have done to us. What a difference our relationships with one another would be if we sought to see the good and not the faults. I think we would be amazed at the transformation in our lives and in the lives of others. Besides, didn’t Paul tell us that is what Love is? 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love is positive, always, and never focusing on the negative.
                Paul goes on to tell us that we are to think upon things that are of good report. This is referring to our actions and our words in regards to life. It means that things spoken, by us, are in a kind spirit, with good will towards others. Paul writes in Colossians 4:6 that we should “Let (our) speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” When I get upset, my first response is not one of good will towards the person I am upset with. But the Lord is clearly telling me that if I begin to focus on the glass half full, then my speech will be changed as well. If all I ever focus on is the negative, my lips will speak the negative as well. If all I ever do is worry, then my speech will reflect that as well. If I focus on the things that are worthy of praise, then I will begin to receive the blessings of joy and peace that have been promised to me.
                Paul says that if there is any virtue and if there be anything praiseworthy, we are to think on these things. Some of us are glass half empty people. We look at a situation and we see all the bad before we see any good. The Lord is telling us all today to look at that glass half full. See all the good and focus on that, it will overflow into a life of praise and glory to His name. We will begin to see the good and we will begin to let go of any and all resentments that have hindered us thus far. 
Catherine Marshall writes, “By an act of will and through imagination and with faith, I am to turn my back on the bad and face the good, and begin actively to praise God for it as Scripture commands….Then came the feeling that all these small acts put together- little trickles of praise- were running together, beginning to form a river of praise.” Our minds will lead us down to the negative side of the tracks before we know it. But the Lord God is urging us all today to find the praise in the midst of it all. No matter what is happening in your life, no matter who is doing what, there is always something to be thankful and full of praise for! We need to stop ourselves from the negative thinking that causes us to feel hurt and pain and turn our attention to the things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtue and end it all with a swelling of praise in our hearts! Amen and Amen.