Dwell - Whatever Is Just
I stopped watching the evening news years ago. As a teenager, if my dad wasn't home to commandeer the TV remote, I would watch the news every day at 5:30pm. Peter Jennings had a kind face, and I liked his delivery. Everything I needed to know about World News in the 90s, Peter Jennings reported it to me. When he passed away in 2005, I was deeply saddened. News reporting has not been the same for me since then. With the induction of bulging email inboxes, social media popularity, and a hostile political climate, I turned my television news off altogether. It became too hard to find God in many of our current events.
Not that God ever went away, it just became harder to focus on him while watching the news.
On occasion, my daughter will get worked up about something. Maybe she loses screen privileges for being disobedient. Or I remind her she has to share her toys when friends come over; that includes both boys and toddlers. Inevitably, she'll cry out,
It's not fair.
I hardly even have to say it anymore. She knows it's coming. I reply,
Well, life's not fair. You might as well learn that now.
So what do we do with that little word tucked in the middle of the verse we're looking at this month?
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is JUST, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8
I think this word gives us a great deal of responsibility. Dwelling on things that are just will not come naturally. Not in today's world, it seems. You're going to have to look for it. You'll need to create it.
There's a friend of mine, and she's still a pretty new believer. Her family has gone to our church for maybe five years. We've done Bible studies together, worked in the kitchen, helped in the children's classrooms, and met up for coffee and lunch on several occasions. I went to her dad's funeral a few months ago. Her mom lives in Australia. Her husband has had to switch jobs. They're currently both experiencing health issues. She told me the other day, her furnace won't turn on.
Her life doesn't seem real fair right now. When she texted us her prayer requests at Bible study recently, I wondered why some families seem to go through it. I might have even said that out loud. Can they catch a break? Here's what I've learned. Do your part. I text my friend regularly. When we go out for a visit, and she'll let me, I offer to pay. I keep reminding her we'd like to bless her with meals, because it blesses us to do so. Visits to the hospital. Taking my seat at the memorial service for her dad, who I had not met. She's had people offer childcare.
If you're watching, there are a thousand ways to make the world around you a little more just. Dwell on all the ways. Then, expand your world. Look for ways to help make things just around the globe.
In a nod to Eugene Peterson (keep him in your prayers as he spends his days in hospice care), let's consider what Micah 6:8 has to teach us:
But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and JUST to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.
We won't often find "just living" on the news. When we are disciplined for being disobedient, or we have to be reminded to share, it might not seem fair. In God though, as we partner with him - thy kingdom come - we can dwell on things that are just, because we helped make them that way.
This is the third post in my October series, #dwellonthesethings. Here are links to the first two: