“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8
The Apostle Paul wrote that our minds should dwell on things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Another way of putting it is that we need to focus on the right things and not the wrong things. We need to focus on the things that are excellent and not on the things that are trivial. We need to focus on the things that are praiseworthy and not on the things that are just noteworthy.
What does it mean to focus on the right things rather than the wrong things?
Tom Friends of The New York Times asked Coach Jimmy Johnson what he told his players before leading the Dallas Cowboys onto the field for the 1993 Super Bowl.
"I told them that if I laid a two-by-four across the floor, everybody there would walk across it and not fall, because our focus would be on walking the length of that board. But if I put that same board 10 stories high between two buildings, only a few would make it, because the focus would be on falling."
Johnson told his players not to focus on the crowd, the media, or the possibility of falling, but to focus on each play of the game as if it were a good practice session. The Cowboys won the game 52-7. Focus on the right things and not the wrong things.
What does it mean to focus on the things that are excellent and not things that are trivial?
A student once asked Albert Einstein, "Dr. Einstein, how many feet are there in a mile?" To the utter astonishment of the student, Einstein replied, "I don't know.
The student was sure the great professor was joking. Surely Einstein would know a simple fact that every schoolchild is required to memorize. But Einstein wasn't joking. When the student pressed for an explanation for this hiatus in Einstein's knowledge, he declared, "I make it a rule not to clutter my mind with simple information that I can find in a book in five minutes."
Albert Einstein was not interested in trivial data. His passion was to explore the deep things of the universe. His passion for mathematical and physical truth made him a pivotal fixture in modern world history. Focus on the excellent and not just the trivial.
Finally, what does it mean to focus on things that are praiseworthy and not just noteworthy?
All of life is noteworthy. Life is a privilege and everything in life is noteworthy. So what exactly is praiseworthy?
I’ll let you figure this one out on your own. Here’s a hint. Read Psalm 145 through Psalm 150 and you will discover the one thing in life that is infinitely praiseworthy.
Something to think about…