Focus on the Good Times
“I thank God for the help you gave me.” (Philippians 1:5, NCV)
Paul wrote the book of Philippians to the church that he started in Philippi, where a woman named Lydia opened up her home and, along with others, welcomed Paul to the city. The Philippian church even helped fund Paul’s missionary journeys. In Philippians 1:5, Paul says, “I thank God for the help you gave me” (NCV).
Yet Paul told the believers, “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God” (Philippians 1:3 NLT).
What is Paul doing there? He is choosing selective memory. Philippi was not a happy place for Paul, and he endured a lot of persecution and suffering during his time in that city. But he chose not to dwell on painful memories. Instead, he expressed his gratitude for the good things that had been done for him and through him.
The longer you know someone, the more likely you are to take that person for granted, look for faults, and remember the bad things instead of the good things.
Are you still clinging to some painful memories with some people in your life? Maybe you’ve never let them off the hook, and so you can’t enjoy those relationships because you’re still holding on to the past.
You need to understand memories are a choice. I’ve mentioned before a story about Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross. A friend reminded her of a particularly cruel thing somebody had done to her years before. The friend asked, “Don’t you remember?” Her famous reply was, “No, I distinctly remember forgetting it.”
Your memories are a choice. If you want to hold on to your painful memories, go right ahead. But you’re not going to be happy! Paul had a lot of reasons to focus on painful memories of Philippi. Instead, he chose to be grateful for the people in his life and the work God was doing in and through them. When you do the same, God will bless your relationships far beyond your expectations.
Talk It Over
Why is it sometimes easier to hold on to painful memories than replace them with good ones?
How does focusing on good memories change your expectations for the future?
How can you express gratitude for the people God has placed in your life? Be as specific as possible.
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This devotional © 2021 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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