Practicing Discernment

Read: Philippians 4:8-9

If there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (v. 8)

If we’re honest, we’ll probably have to admit that much of what we listen to or watch does little to sustain us spiritually. In fact, social media and commercial television is designed to make us feel unhappy and dissatisfied with our lives so that we buy whatever the advertisers are trying to sell.

Paul encourages the Philippians to practice discernment—to search for what is true, excellent, beautiful, and praiseworthy—and to spend time meditating on these things. This does not mean that Christians should avoid anything unpleasant or adopt a phony sort of cheerfulness. Sometimes the truth is painful, and sometimes art reveals the darker side of humanity. But great works of art can provide tremendous solace because they remind us of what is good, important, and valuable. When we seek out the best that human beings have made, we celebrate the gift of creativity that God has given to us—a gift that reflects his own delight in the beautiful and the good.

If you consume media indiscriminately, you risk becoming cynical or shallow. It’s the spiritual equivalent of living on chips and soda. Are you finding it difficult to be thankful this year? Maybe you need to change your media diet.

Reflect on a piece of music, a book, or a film that is praiseworthy. Thank God for all the beauty in our world.

As you pray, thank God for the glory of his creation and for the gift of creativity.

About the Author

Jane Olson is a college counselor and high school teacher. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and children.

This entry is part 12 of 15 in the series Habits of a Thankful Heart