We are trying to guide our older son, Grant into a more relaxed, confident, stress-free state of mind as he is going through the typical anxiety of the pre-adolescence/adolescence age. Thought, I said “trying,” I am, in no way, implying that we may be succeeding… However, I believe we might have been able to make a bit of progress thanks to one piece of advice we have given him:
To change the way we feel, it helps to change the way we think.
The short devotional readings I do every day present this concept quite often, and today there it was again. The idea was associated with the passage of Scripture from Philippians 4: 8-9,
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
This magnificent, Holy Spirit-inspired command that Paul gave to his friends in Philippi ages ago, still fits us perfectly in today’s world. In a society where the lines between right and wrong, and good and evil are so faint, and where the normalization of sin has become institutionalized, Christians struggle to stay true to our faith. Young people are bombarded by all things dark and carnal. Purity is laughed at and innocence is quickly becoming extinct. Parents who want to protect their children’s souls and shelter them from the filth around us are left without any resources from the secularized culture that wants to swallow us whole. What is there to do, then?
We hang on to this passage, seek out whatever is pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, worthy of praise and dwell on such things! Better yet, as parents, we are to do what Paul says here…we are to model all these, live them ourselves, become examples to those we want to influence, so they can practice these things, the things they have “learned and received and heard and seen” in us. We are not just to tell our kids to do these things. We have to do them ourselves first! We have to die to our not-so-pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, worthy of praise habits and become people who follow the light and seek the Kingdom of God!
I don’t know how good a model I am being for my sons on this one. Actually, as a matter of fact, I don’t remember ever paying attention to verse 9 on this passage before. Today, however, I realize that the responsibility of helping my children change the way they think at this stage of their lives falls primarily on their Mom and Dad…(aka me and Dan). Most likely, they will end up modeling what they see in us.
I want them to enjoy the presence of the God of peace in their lives. In order to achieve it, they need to shape their thought lives…and I have a hand on helping them do that. But to accomplish such a goal, I need to shape myself after someone…someone who can model the above pattern to perfection. So I choose to model myself after my Savior.
I pray I can measure up to the task of guiding my children into a path of a transformed thought-life. I know for sure I can’t do it on my own. I need the strength and wisdom that comes from My Lord so I can learn how to change the way I think and the things I think about to be in tune with what I see in Him, and in turn, become a good role-model.