We've been having some really great discussions in Sunday School as we've been going through the book, Philippians: Christ, the Source of Joy and Strength by John MacArthur. Yesterday, the focus was on Philippians 2:14-16:
English Standard Version (ESV)
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
"Modern Western society is the most prosperous culture in the history of mankind, and also arguably the most discontented society ever. As the economy has become increasingly richer, people appear more discontent and complain more with each passing generation. Fueling that enchantment is the conviction that personal happiness, though elusive and unattained, is the supreme objective of life.
The church is not immune to this. Believers' failure to willingly, even joyfully, submit to God's providential will is a deep-seated and serious sin. Discontentment and complaining are attitudes that can become so habitual they are hardly noticed. But those twin sins demonstrate a lack of trust in His providential will, boundless grace, and infinite wisdom and love. Consequently, those sins are especially odious in His sight and merit His discipline. To deal with the complainers in the Philippian congregation, Paul first commanded them to stop complaining, then gave them reasons for obeying that command."
~ Philippians: Christ, the Source of Joy and Strength by John MacArthur
My happiness isn't to be the end objective. Being a servant of Christ to bring Him glory should be my goal. Obedient. Loving. Set apart. We are called to "shine as lights in the world". We are called to "hold fast to the word of life". What if... What if we tried to make a contentious decision to not only try to avoid saying things that are negative, but also mentally and verbally tried to focus on the positive? Ha, we should be doing this anyway, but it's easy to slip into being more negative than positive.
Mirriam Neal recently wrote a blog post entitled: Say 'No' To Negativity. (Ha, I just remembered I wanted to read her post, and by the title *grins* I was right that it'd fit with what I'm rambling about..) .. In it, she shares a good goal - try not to say anything negative for three days. My first thought was, "Wow I don't know if I can......" but it's something I should try. I'm going to try to stop saying anything negative for three days. I'm not sure how it'll go, but I'm going to try.
I'll admit, I'm not always good at focusing on the positive. There are days when it seems one thing after another goes wrong and I'm mentally going over all the things that should have been done differently. Last week I had one of those days, and I could feel myself getting flustered. Thank God, He helped me realize the attitude I was having, and with prayer and a redirection of my focus, the rest of the day went much better.
*Half grin* Yeah, I've thought about the need to be positive before, but I've never really thought about trying to say nothing negative for any length of time... And there I go again, thinking of all the ways this is going to be hard. Hmm, but we'll never get anywhere in life if we don't at first try, no matter what misgivings we have. And what's the worse that can happen? I won't be as positive as I might prefer, and I'll need to pray and try again... Try again to smile, focus on God's blessings, and pray for His guidance moment by moment.
Ha, this is going to be an interesting challenge... Would you like to join me? :) ;)
**Update** So, trying not to say anything negative for three days was hard, and I didn't fully succeed. Still, I found that keeping this in mind made me more aware of any negative thoughts, and I caught myself several times from saying things I might've otherwise said. All in all, this has been a good reminder to be more aware of the things I say.
~Ophelia - Marie