When my wife and I bought our first home, a sturdy red-brick colonial, we set out to make it our own— laboriously scraping off old wallpaper, yanking up some seriously outdated carpet, refinishing long neglected wood floors, and patching and painting the walls in every single room. It was a great house, super solid; it just needed a facelift on the inside.
One of the last projects was left to me — retiling a bathroom floor. So my wife picked out a nice ceramic tile, contemporary to the age of the house, and I went to work. It wasn’t the first time I had tiled a floor, but it was the first time I’d done so alone.
When I was finished, my wife was pretty happy, and I was happy to be finished. But, as the days and weeks passed by, I became more and more annoyed with one particular grout-line — one line that was spaced a bit wider than all the others. Consequently, every time I walked into that bathroom, it was the first thing I’d see. And, until we sold the house, it taunted me. (In fact, I’m actually irritated by it as I write this even though I currently live a thousand miles away from that insubordinate grout-line!)
Now, I can definitely be a bit of a perfectionist, but I don’t think my negativity over that obstinate grout-line is terribly unique. Oh, it might not be a grout-line for you, but I’ll bet there are other things constantly catching your negative attention — like, the way your neighbor parks his car in front of your house or the way the lady at your office constantly smells like hand sanitizer or the way your spouse habitually whistles while doing housework. Each of us has some kind of uneven grout-line that regularly annoys us — some irritant on which we dwell to the exclusion of all the positive things around us.
Maybe this is why Paul wrote the following command to the Philippian church and to us:
…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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8-9, NIV
As I write this, we’re just three days into the new year, and people all around me are making new year’s resolutions — to lose some weight or to eat more vegetables or to limit time on social media. (Shame on you for reading this blogpost!).
Yet, while resolutions like these might be reasonable goals in the coming year, it occurs to me that a pursuit of Philippians 4:8-9 is a resolution for a new life, one that comes with the promise of God’s peace. Now, that’s worth our pursuit! And, that’s radical living —dwelling on what’s right in your neighbor before condemning what’s wrong; appreciating what’s lovely about your coworker rather than ridiculing what isn’t; thanking God for what’s excellent about your spouse instead of obsessing over what’s not.
That, friends, is a gospel resolution; and, one which, through faith, obeys and glorifies and images our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.