The stress of life today can wear on the body and mind. Here is some brilliant, ancient wisdom to restore perspective, clarity and peace.
One of the finest historians over the last 2000 years is the Apostle Paul. He wrote several letters to his friends from the many different places where he travelled. One letter in particular was written to his associates in the city of Philippi, named after Phillip II of Macedon. You’ve most likely heard of Phillip’s son – Alexander the Great.
In addition to Paul’s knack for recording history, he also articulated the human condition with uncanny accuracy, especially for someone without the advancements in modern psychology and behavioral science. In this letter, he communicates the significance of thought and its effect on human relationships and behavior.
“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.”
The word “think” at the end of the sentence in the Greek translation actually means to “chew on cud”. Like a cow chewing and chewing on grass a second time that they grazed on hours earlier in the field, the author directs the reader to take the time to think upon and consider deeply each of the items on this list.
These are not fleeting thoughts or a quick skim of positive affirmations. Instead, he’s referring to contemplation, meditation and focus on very specific categories of thought. Paul understood quite clearly the impact thoughts could have on our attitude, behavior, stress, circumstances and life.
Let me recommend that you regularly schedule time to turn off your phone, find a quiet place, and chew on the eight essentials Paul listed in his letter to reframe your perspective and calm anxious thoughts.
I’ve selected just one of the eight items on the list to briefly explore:
Chew on Honor
Honor is a subjective concept based on our perceived quality of worthiness and respectability in our own eyes, as well as in the eyes of our group, society or nation.
Dr. Ravi Zacharias articulates the vehicle for developing honor:
“Duty is the handmaiden of love and honor. It is doing that which is right rather than that which is convenient. In fact, failure of duty generally amputates somebody else’s right. Duty recognizes a cause greater than one’s self.”
When I consider great acts of honor, I think of two historic examples from George Washington. He willingly gave up the opportunity to supreme power, not once, but twice. He was offered kingship over the colonies after the Revolutionary War to bring about stability. He declined.
After his second term as President, he willing stepped down to preserve Constitutional integrity, in spite of an offer of a third term. His duty was to the perpetuation of this newly formed experiment in freedom and the sustainability of its ideals. That’s honor and worth exploring as we face temptations in many facets of life.
When signing the Declaration of Independence, the American Founding Fathers “mutually pledged to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” We are the beneficiaries of their honor.
There is an excellent book of poetry I enjoy reading regularly. An ancient king, who, when he was just a teenager, killed a giant enemy soldier with a leather strap and a stone, wrote many of the poems. Within this book of poetry, the writing that brings me great peace and diffuses my inner anxiety (when I read it very slowly and chew on each word) is #23:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures: He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul: He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.