“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’ve thought about this verse a lot lately. When I have negative thoughts, I usually praise and thank God out loud and the thoughts go away. I don’t let myself dwell on sad or bad thoughts.
Last week, I came across a review on a new book about the Circus and the arenas in ancient Rome. I’m interested in history, so I began reading the review. They quoted the author on some of the different games and contests that were celebrated. The games became so popular that there was pressure on the administrator to show the people something new and more spectacular each time.
As I read about the contests and killings, I thought, “I should stop reading this. It is going to get worse.” But no, I did not stop reading until I came upon something so horrible, so unspeakable, that it took my breath away that men would do such things to each other. And these things took place a hundred years before Jesus was born. The games were corrupt almost immediately.
The humans they used in these games were prisoners, slaves or captives of war. Their lives meant nothing to the ones who put on the games and probably little to the common Roman who went to the games. Their suffering and humiliation was sport.
The Romans got the idea for having games after a victory from the Greeks. But I’m pretty sure the Greeks did not torture and slaughter people and animals in their games. Reading those few paragraphs made me realize why Rome’s enemies hated her.
But the moral of my story isn’t about the Romans, it is about me. I was curious and so I read on and on. Afterwards, I felt sick and had images in my mind that will always be there. I was like Eve, who wanted to know if the fruit would maker her smarter. The Knowledge of Good and Evil. That was the name of the tree. She had no knowledge of evil, and I guess she felt if God had the knowledge then she should have it too.
But the knowledge of the evil going on in this world is depressing and incredibly heavy. We aren’t meant to carry that heavy load. I do think though, that we should fight against evil, like human trafficking. If we didn’t know it was going on, how could we help those who are caught in slavery?
I have heard about ministries that help the children who are kidnapped into the sex trade. Joyce Meyer Ministries helps those children and there are many other Christians in this work. What a blessing they are!
There are things I have seen in newspapers I wish I had never seen. There are movies and TV shows I wish I had never seen. The depths to which sin goes is as deep as the ocean. These horrors of evil we have to give to God to carry. We haven’t got the strength.
And there is that Bible verse in Philippians. God wants us to think on that which is good and lovely. It is the best way to live, to have peace and love in our hearts. The more we think on God, read the Bible and pray, the more we will see the beauty of goodness. As we see that, we will admire God, who is goodness himself. When we contrast what he is like with evil deeds, we will worship him even more.
I used to like to read about politics and world events, but I noticed it made me feel angry and sad. I rarely read anything on those subjects now. There is nothing I can do about corrupt politicians, except vote for someone I think is good. I just want enough information to do that.
David wrote, “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.” Psalm 101:3 Good advice.