“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything, worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8.
I have been astounded by the coverage given to so many celebrities and sports figures today. Many places I go or programs I watch, these are often the topics of discussion. It seems that every time we turn around, there is a new scandal or affair filling the airwaves that keep people focused on trivial matters rather than on what matters most. I can understand the world being obsessed by these things, but Christians? And the spreading and telling others of these things is nothing less than gossip, which is defined as, “idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.” Does this sound like what is going on? In a word, Yes.
It is very important that, as Christians, we discipline ourselves with the help of the Holy Spirit to reject filling our minds with worthless thoughts and ideas that have no really true value. Many movies, television programs, magazines, books, etc. are not worthy of our attention. Why do we need to know what is happening in the private lives of famous actors and actresses? What benefit does that have for us, especially the type of information that is reported on? Why are there people running, fighting, and pushing people out of the way to be one who has a seat at a trial of a person they do not even know? Most only want to hear the horrible details of a young girl who died at a very young age, or scandalous facts about a young lady who appears to have made tragic decisions that will haunt her the rest of her life. Why do we feel compelled to joke about and ridicule a man who sent inappropriate pictures of himself to women he did not even know except through social media sites? Instead, we should be praying for him that he would find the truth, repent, and get his life back on track. This man’s life is in shambles, and the humiliation must be almost unbearable, not to mention how his wife and/or his family must feel. We must remember what Jesus said, “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Luke 6:31. Would we want the world to hang our dirty laundry for all to see? Would we want our embarrassing and humiliating mistakes and problems to be exposed to the entire world? I know I would not. Let’s pray and choose not to get involved in these conversations. Grace is what is needed here.
As for entertainment, it is getting more and more difficult to find movies and programming that do not have inappropriate content which we have no business watching or hearing. Clothing has become so provocative that it leaves little to the imagination. Language in the form of sexually explicit or innuendo fills the dialogue. Even situations the characters find themselves in can be way out of line. What used to be R rated (basically only for adults) is now considered PG-13, deemed acceptable for our teenage children. The violence has now become so prolific that it has become gratuitous, taking away from the storyline. However, in some cases, the violence is the storyline, with some graphic details totally unnecessary. However, many Christians see these things as mere entertainment and nothing to be concerned about. They are not affected by it, so they think. However, their sensibilities have become so dull that it would not surprise me if they would have flocked to see people being torn apart by lions in the great Coliseum at Rome if they had lived back then.
We need to stop and take a look at what fills our hearts and minds. Many of us are spending more time following the debauchery of famous people we don’t even know then evangelizing the lost or discipling Christians. We are not taking the time to study the Word of God in order to give an answer to the hope that lies within us, but we have more than enough time to act as voyeurs, looking for the next juicy tidbit that we can share with our friends and colleagues. This should not be. We should prioritize what we spend our time on based upon what is important to our spiritual lives, and not necessarily what pleases us in this life. The sad thing is, many who find little time for God’s word but plenty of time on gossip probably do set their priorities based on what is most important to them.
As Christians, we should be filling our minds with God’s Word, our hearts with His love, and our life with His work. We should not focus on trivial matters that have no eternal importance, but instead engage in the service of God to reach the lost, encourage the downcast, and make disciples of the nations. How can we do these things if we fill our time learning worthless facts about strangers, or fill our minds with words and images that will produce temptations to sin? Paul said to think on those things which are:
Things that are excellent and worthy of Praise. These are the things we are to focus on. This has the idea of reckoning in the sense of taking these things into account, as opposed to simply thinking about them. This suggests that Paul is telling them not so much to “think high thoughts” as to “take into account” the good they have long known from their own past, as long as it is conformable to Christ.
If what we think about or strive to know does not fit into the categories above, then we probably need to re-think what we focus on. Our time here is short, and the laborers are few. God has called us to go into the highways and byways to compel a lost world to accept the saving grace that only Christ can provide. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. If what we focus on does not equip us to fulfill that great commission and strengthen our relationship with God, it is not worth focusing on. And God will hold us accountable for how we spent our time.