How To Focus Our Thoughts On What Is Still Beautiful In Our World

It's easy to be distracted by the jarring noise of this fallen world. But when we choose to find and focus on what is godly, we can see beauty again.

How To Focus Our Thoughts On What Is Still Beautiful In Our World

January 19, 2023

I splurged last Christmas and bought a beautiful wall clock. Every hour, on the hour, the clock face moves to a few bars of music. During the holidays, I set the clock to play Christmas carols and loved how it made our home feel even more festive. 

When I took down the Christmas decorations, I reset the clock to play classical music. Immediately I began hearing the gears as they moved the clock face around. Sadly, their grinding noise drowned out the melodies. 

A quick Google search revealed the makers of the clock had recently changed the material they use in its mechanism. Online reviewers blame this cheaper material for causing the grinding noise. When I saw the problem could not be fixed, my joy over the clock gave way to stinging disappointment. 

But as I continued to scroll through the reviews, I noticed some people found ways to still enjoy the clock, despite its noisy defect. They chose to block out the sound of the gears by concentrating on the melodies. I tried this for a few days, and yes, the more I focused on the music, the less I heard the gears.

Sometimes life can remind me of that clock. Everything can look, sound, and feel beautiful for a while. But then we experience the jarring effects of living in this fallen world. Tragedy or trauma strikes us or someone we love. Or we grow weary living in a culture which has grown increasingly more resistant to God and His truths. Suddenly the noisy world overpowers our joy and disillusionment sets in.

And just like I have to concentrate to hear the music over the grinding gears of my clock, we have to choose our focus. The Apostle Paul encourages us with these words:

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 NIV)

Earlier in this chapter, Paul encouraged the Philippians to:

  • Rejoice always (v.4)
  • Let their gentleness be evident to all (v.5)
  • Not be anxious about anything (v.6)
  • Present their requests to God with thanksgiving (v.6)

Now he concludes his exhortations by asking them to focus their thoughts on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. These virtues, although consistent with the Christian faith, are not often used in the New Testament. In fact, two of the words, prosphilés (lovely) and euphémos (admirable) are not used anywhere else in the Bible. Some commentators point out that Paul’s choice of words actually reflect the values esteemed by the Greek culture of his time.

With this understanding, Paul was reminding the Philippians that not everything in their culture was ungodly. He asked them to find and focus their thoughts on the morals respected in their culture which also reflected their Christian faith. To apply this teaching to our culture today, we might include the following values:

  • Integrity in the workplace
  • Random acts of kindness
  • Loyalty in relationships

Once we identify these virtues and make them our focus, the noisy sounds of the fallen world, like the grinding gears of my clock, will become less of a distraction. We will be able to see and hear what is still beautiful. 

Wherever our travels take us, I pray we master this art of focus. May we see and emulate what honors the One who continues to lead us home.

How To Focus Our Thoughts On What Is Still Beautiful In Our World

January 19, 2023

It's easy to be distracted by the jarring noise of this fallen world. But when we choose to find and focus on what is godly, we can see beauty again.

I splurged last Christmas and bought a beautiful wall clock. Every hour, on the hour, the clock face moves to a few bars of music. During the holidays, I set the clock to play Christmas carols and loved how it made our home feel even more festive. 

When I took down the Christmas decorations, I reset the clock to play classical music. Immediately I began hearing the gears as they moved the clock face around. Sadly, their grinding noise drowned out the melodies. 

A quick Google search revealed the makers of the clock had recently changed the material they use in its mechanism. Online reviewers blame this cheaper material for causing the grinding noise. When I saw the problem could not be fixed, my joy over the clock gave way to stinging disappointment. 

But as I continued to scroll through the reviews, I noticed some people found ways to still enjoy the clock, despite its noisy defect. They chose to block out the sound of the gears by concentrating on the melodies. I tried this for a few days, and yes, the more I focused on the music, the less I heard the gears.

Sometimes life can remind me of that clock. Everything can look, sound, and feel beautiful for a while. But then we experience the jarring effects of living in this fallen world. Tragedy or trauma strikes us or someone we love. Or we grow weary living in a culture which has grown increasingly more resistant to God and His truths. Suddenly the noisy world overpowers our joy and disillusionment sets in.

And just like I have to concentrate to hear the music over the grinding gears of my clock, we have to choose our focus. The Apostle Paul encourages us with these words:

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 NIV)

Earlier in this chapter, Paul encouraged the Philippians to:

  • Rejoice always (v.4)
  • Let their gentleness be evident to all (v.5)
  • Not be anxious about anything (v.6)
  • Present their requests to God with thanksgiving (v.6)

Now he concludes his exhortations by asking them to focus their thoughts on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. These virtues, although consistent with the Christian faith, are not often used in the New Testament. In fact, two of the words, prosphilés (lovely) and euphémos (admirable) are not used anywhere else in the Bible. Some commentators point out that Paul’s choice of words actually reflect the values esteemed by the Greek culture of his time.

With this understanding, Paul was reminding the Philippians that not everything in their culture was ungodly. He asked them to find and focus their thoughts on the morals respected in their culture which also reflected their Christian faith. To apply this teaching to our culture today, we might include the following values:

  • Integrity in the workplace
  • Random acts of kindness
  • Loyalty in relationships

Once we identify these virtues and make them our focus, the noisy sounds of the fallen world, like the grinding gears of my clock, will become less of a distraction. We will be able to see and hear what is still beautiful. 

Wherever our travels take us, I pray we master this art of focus. May we see and emulate what honors the One who continues to lead us home.

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8 Comments

  1. Margaret on January 20, 2023 at 4:39 AM

    Beautiful post, Shirley! Thanks for sharing.

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on January 22, 2023 at 2:01 PM

      Thank you Margaret! 💕

  2. Teresa on January 20, 2023 at 7:05 AM

    Shirley, Philippians 4:8 is one of my favorite verses. I love how even the smallest things in our world can teach us if we keep our focus on God how everything changes for the better.

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on January 22, 2023 at 2:03 PM

      Thank you Teresa! This is one of my favorite verses as well! I agree, keeping a focus on God makes all things better! 💕

  3. Emmanuelle Jette on January 20, 2023 at 9:46 AM

    Shirley, tu as une façon belle et authentique de décrire une expérience de ta vie de tous les jours. Puis de nous amener à voir la dimension spirituelle de cette expérience. Merci d’illustrer ainsi des versets de la Bible et de nous faire réfléchir aux applications concrètes dans nos vies. Merci pour ton amitié aussi!

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on January 22, 2023 at 2:05 PM

      Merci beaucoup, Emmanuelle, pour tes mots encourageants. Ton amitié est une bénédiction pour moi. 😘

  4. Sharon on January 22, 2023 at 3:59 PM

    Love this, Shirley! A very good reminder.

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on January 26, 2023 at 9:59 AM

      Thank you Sharen! 💕

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