A friend recently gave me some wise advice in regard to a specific matter which troubled me. They told me that I shouldn’t feed my thoughts. What was meant at that time was that I should not dwell on the wrong that I had perceived had been done against me.
Their advice was sound. But what I needed to do was not only stop the flow of troubling thoughts, but I needed to think my way through to good thoughts even related to that matter. That possibility is set before us, and more than that, is prescribed in Jesus. We know that God works in all things for the good of those who love him. And we also are called to think the best of others. Not to pass any kind of ultimate judgment on them, since God alone can do that. Oh yes, we do have responsibility to hold people accountable to the point that those who profess faith in Jesus yet live in a different way are to be lovingly confronted, and if not responding to personal appeal, and then the appeal of others, are to be disciplined as no longer those who are part of the community of believers, of those who follow Jesus. But in regard to matters like I was wrestling with, only God knows the hearts, and what is truly right or wrong in the matter.
So I chose to remember the good, and also to reject my own assumptions and understanding. As well as choosing to forgive unequivocally all I perceived to be wrong, the person who from my perspective had wronged me.
Paul wrote for us what is key for me in this from God’s word:
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.
And we must not forget the description Paul gives of the love which if lacking, makes everything else empty:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
And we need to learn to think more and more in terms of God’s Story in Jesus, the Story we gather from all of scripture, in all its complexity and wonder. Which means we must continue to work on that. Knowing that the God who is love, and who has demonstrated that love in Jesus, calls us to live in the same love. Even beginning in this life, with all the difficulties and challenges that brings. Not the least being what we bring to the table in our sin and lack of understanding.
That we might more and more by God’s grace live out the mind of Christ together for each other, and for the world.