Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lovely Things

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I had been reading some commentaries on a Philippians 4:8. One of those commentaries was Barnes NT Notes, and while his entire commentary on the verse is really good, the one section that stood out to me the most was this part:

Whatsoever things are lovely. The word here used means, properly, what is dear to any one; then what is pleasing. Here it means what is amiable—such a temper of mind that one can love it; or such as to be agreeable to others. A Christian should not be sour, crabbed, and irritable in his temper for nothing almost tends so much to injure the cause of religion as a temper always chafed; a brow morose and stern; an eye that is severe and unkind, and a disposition to find fault with everything. And yet it is to be regretted that there are many persons, who make no pretensions to piety, who far surpass many professors of religion in the virtue here commended. A sour and crabbed temper in a professor of religion will undo all the good that he attempts to do.

As I read that, I immediately began to think of several people I know, or know of, that fit this description to a T. Folks that are known as Christians but you might wonder who popped their joy-bubble, since they almost never have anything to say if it's not negative, critical, skeptical, fault-finding, nit-picking, condemning and judgemental. You may even be thinking of folks that you know that fit this description. I know many years ago when attending an Independant Fundamentalist Baptist church, they had a ton of literature available in the foyer and it was ALL in this category. What is wrong with this person, that teaching, this denomination, that Bible version, etc. All negative! I took one of the little booklets home one day and after reading it wondered if the author ever even felt joy, peace, assurance or hope, since all that came through on the pages was snark/snark/snark.

What really got me though, about reading Barnes' commentary, was that I did think about other people before I applied it to myself. I really hate it when I do that, but it's what I'm prone to do, constantly. So what about me? When I'm in a bad mood for some trivial reason, do I come off as sour, crabbed and irritable? I know I do. When I'm not dwelling on things that are good, I'm quite certain that I do come across as unkind, morose, and/or short tempered. It may even be over something small, but when things don't run smoothly or orderly I get all bent out of shape and most likely come across to my family as the crabby-patty defined in that commentary above. What about all the blog posts I've ever posted in the last five years that maybe weren't done with nearly the grace they COULD have been written with? What about the tone of my voice when responding in frustration to someone? The list is long, but in my own world, it's entirely possible for me to come across as that "crabbed temper" by a professor of faith and even undo whatever good I hope to do. The very idea of that is heartbreaking.

I don't want to be a crabby-patty, so it's all the more reason to make a seriously concerted effort to really set my mind on good, edifying, praiseworthy things.

(And in a completely unrelated note, this is my 1,001st blog post since moving from the old blog. Not sure that means much, except I never seem to run out of things to say.)

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