What occupies our thoughts? How much time do we spend looking back on the unpleasant things that have happened to us? We have a choice!
Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62 NIV). If a person who’s plowing a field keeps looking back instead of looking ahead, he’s sure to plow some awfully crooked rows. If we’ve accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, but are forever looking backward into the past, we’re plowing crooked rows too.
When we focus on our pasts, our trials, our troubles and our pain, we often make them bigger and more important than they really are. We magnify them. How do we stop exaggerating our troubles? They’re real, but they don’t need to define us. Here’s how we change. We focus on Christ and his Word. This isn’t easily done, because neither the Devil nor our sinful selves tend to want us to live that way. We have a fight on our hands. But that battle has already been won for us through the sacrifice made by Christ on the cross, and he will help us.
Focusing requires us to concentrate our thoughts and efforts. When we focus on God and his Word, we’re seeking a clear, distinct picture of what God has done for us. We want—we need—to magnify all of the great things God has provided for us. For starters:
- He loves us.
- He died that we might live.
- He has taken our sin and given us his righteousness.
Take a look at Psalm 34:1-3 (AMP). The questions in parenthesis are mine. Keep in mind that when David wrote this passage, King Saul was trying to catch and kill him.
“I will bless the Lord (When?) at all times;
His praise will (How often?) continually be in my mouth.
My life makes its boast (In whom?) in the Lord;
Let the humble and the afflicted (Do what?) hear and be glad.
Oh magnify (Who?) the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together.”
We can’t let our thanksgiving be based on our feelings (which can change more quickly than the weather) or on our circumstances (which are never dependable). Once we learn to focus on God, there’s always a reason to give thanks. We can begin to look away from the things that bother us or bring us pain and turn instead to eternal things, the truths that will matter forever. So, where should we focus? What shall we magnify? Let me leave you with this verse.
“May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, ‘The Lord is great!’” (Psalm 70:4 NIV).
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