What’s strong or what’s wrong?

Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things [in daily life], and the God [who is the source] of peace and well-being will be with you.

Philippians 4:8-9 (AMP)

I know this scripture may look funny, but there’s a reason for that. It’s from the Amplified Bible. (Also, I have a wonderful memory of my youth group at First-Denton who had a print copy of this Bible – whenever they read from it, they may have shouted the word “amplified” before returning to a normal voice for the rest. A funny case of taking the Bible literally!)

The Amplified Bible (AMP) is an English translation of the Bible produced by Zondervan and The Lockman Foundation. “Amplifications” are words or phrases intended to more fully bring out the meaning of the original text but distinguished from the translation itself by a system of brackets, parentheses, and italics. The translation is largely one of formal equivalence (word-for-word). When I am studying a text, I love to take a look at this translation to help give me a fuller sense of what the original language is saying.

Paul wrote this letter to the church he founded in Philippi, a leading city and Roman colony in Macedonia. It seems one of the issues facing the Philippians was inner conflict. Paul repeatedly encourages them to “think the same thing” and lifts up virtues like affection, loyalty, sharing, harmony, and reciprocity.

I often remind my children (and myself) that perspective is vital. We tend to see what we’re looking for and if we’re only looking for faults, we’re certainly going to find them. But if we look for the goodness, the opportunities, whatever is excellent or worthy of praise – well, dollars to donuts we’ll find those things in the same people, places, and situations.

In asset-based community development, which is a huge part of my neighboring work, we focus on what’s strong, not what’s wrong. It doesn’t mean we’ll never try to fix a problem or correct an issue, but it means we’ll start from a place of strength, clear on what gifts and graces we can bring to it.

Beloved, I wonder what things you see that are wrong in your daily life. How could you bring your own strengths to help?

I’m praying for you; I hope you’re praying for me. This week in worship we’ll take on another half-truth – “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” I look forward to worshiping with you!


Pastor Jessica.