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
“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.” Romans 12:2 (The Message)
Paul prescribes a number of things to meditate on in order to maintain a healthy mindset and keep from sinking into a black hole of despair and disrepair. Following what is true and noble and right he recommends thoughts that are “pure.” What is purity and where do we find it?
Among other things, purity has to do with a lack of competing agendas. “Pure gold” is just that, nothing but gold. It contains no other metals. To be pure is to have one purpose. Dawson Trotman, Founder of the Navigators ministry drowned while saving a girl’s life. At his funeral, Billy Graham gave the eulogy and said, “Here was a man who did not say, ‘These forty things I dabble at,’ but ‘This one thing I do.’” That’s purity.
How would you boil your life’s purpose down to one thing? What is your one agenda? “This one thing I do,” wrote Paul. “One thing I have desired,” sang David. Most of us would have a hard time reducing our life’s purpose to ten things let alone one thing. If we were honest we’d have to say, “This is one of the many things that I do, one of several things that define my life on earth.”
As with everything, meditating on Jesus, the Lamb of God without blemish or defect (1 Peter 1:19) is a good place to begin. Though none of us on this side of glistening with glory perfectly resembles the purity of the Son of God, we might shoot for the moon and if we hit the trees at least we got airborne!
I find it helpful to think about the lives of certain people that begin to approximate the purity of Jesus. I’m not into praying to saints or anything, but there is great value in acknowledging and concentrating on lives well lived. Saint John, Saint Francis, Mother Teresa, John of the Cross, Saint Clare of Assisi are a few that come to mind. Make your own list of less than perfect, yet more than most, examples of purity and meditate on their lives as primer to inspire you.
Lean into the way the Father sees you in Jesus: “altogether beautiful and without flaw” (Song of Songs 4:7), “holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation” (Colossians 1:22).
Oftentimes when I am in the manifest presence of God I experience him almost whispering those adoring thoughts to my spirit. While I’m not worthy of such pure love, I don’t turn down the opportunity to luxuriate in it.
Those are examples of the sort of pure thoughts that crowd out most of my impure ones––for the moment anyway.
So, take a few minutes and immerse yourself in the purity of Jesus, in the exemplary pure lives of others, and in the Father’s pure love for you.
Stay tuned for thinking on what is lovely…