1) A job becomes a habit: Julie Link, a contributing writer of Our Daily Bread wrote this: My occupation is words. Whether I am writing or editing, I am using words to convey ideas so that readers can understand. I can usually see what’s wrong with someone else’ writing and figure out how to fix it, but sometimes, I can’t see that with my own writing. As an editor, my job is to be critical, to see something wrong with the way words are used. This ability becomes a problem when I carry it to my everyday life that I always look for something wrong on others. Only focusing on the wrongs on others can cause us to miss all the rights in them.
2) A call to see the right: The apostle Paul had every reason to focus on what was wrong in the Philippians church. Certain people in that church were preaching the gospel out of selfish ambition to add to Paul’s suffering or personal gain. Instead of concentrating on the negative, he chose to look at the positive and rejoice in it: Jesus Christ was being preached. God wants us to be discerning to know good from bad. But God doesn’t want us to only focus on the bad and the wrong on others and become critical or discouraged. Even in a circumstance that was much less than ideal, Paul encouraged us to find something good in people and things because God is still at work and in control.
WHY WE SEE ALL THE WRONGS:
1) There are too many wrongs: Since very early in human history, “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” (Genesis 6:5) Everywhere you turn, every thing you see on news paper, TV and on the internet, stories you heard from people around you, great majority of them are wrong, bad and evil, worse than that in the Bible time. So many things are wrong in politics, government and officials, business world, families, and even in churches. Evil, bad and wrong have ruled the world for thousands of years, and the roots of wrong are so deep sometimes we feel helpless and hopeless.
2) We were born with wrong nature. I am talking about the nature we were born with: we can see the wrong in others much easier, brighter and eye catching than seeing our own wrong. We can see the wrong in others much easier than seeing the right in them. We were born with a much greater interest to know and to talk about the wrong in others than to praise and to congratulate others for the good and right things they have done. It is this bad inclination to see others fail, fall, stumbled, tabloid papers and magazine publishers make millions of dollars.
3) We love to feel “Better than thou”: Most of us are aware of our own shortcomings, failures and things we have done wrong. But by seeing, talking or criticizing the wrongs of other, we build a feeling of “better than you” mentality. It is when we see others failed or stumbled we build that false sense of superiority over others even though we may be worse than them in other things.
LEARN FROM THE BEST: (Phil. 1:12-20)
1) Focusing on end results: “Now I want you to know, brother, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” (1:12)What has happened to Paul was all wrong, bad and evil. From the false accusation to the mistreatment, to the imprisonment, all were wrong and bad to the life and ministry of Paul. There were lots of reasons for Paul to see, get frustrated or even angry because of all the wrongs, but he did not focus on them but on the outcome of the wrongs: they served to advance the gospel. This is not about positive think, it is about what is your focal point on things happen to us. When we focus on the wrong, it is very wrong. But when we focus on the super good results, we see everything right.
2) Putting Christ above yourself: “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motive or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” (1:18) The saying: “You get some and you lose some” is true in real life. No one will get it all. To Paul, he got the wrong, so Christ got all the right. The joy in Paul’s heart comes from his putting Christ and his glorious gospel way above personal freedom and justice. In short, Paul’s suffering fertilized the soil where the seeds of the gospel grow and bear much fruit.
3) Faith beyond here and now: “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” (1:20)There were very few things that might help Paul to build his faith to see the wrong become right under his circumstances. But Paul’s faith didn’t rest on the here and now but on what is to come when Christ is exalted on high and receives all the glory and honor. Our current condition may been so dim we can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. But when we build our faith in Christ, we will see all the wrongs become right, tears become laughter and grief becomes great joy. Faith can see things naked eyes can never see.
TURNING WRONGS INTO RIGHTS: (Romans 8:28)
1) God works in all things: “And we know that in all things God works.” (8:28a) This is the starting point: God works in all things, the good and the bad. He is in control of all things. Nothing we are facing now is beyond His reach or control. God is at work in our situation, in the life of others, in our environ-ment, even in the darkest moment and situation. (I need this assurance at this moment of life) Even in very frustrating, unjust and wrong conditions, God is in control. This is the foundation of our faith in God: He sees and He can make things right.
2) God gives good gifts: “God works for the good of those who love him.” (28b) God will never work anything for the bad of those who love him. Jesus confirms that “Though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.” (Matt. 7:11) Knowing and believing that God will always work to bring the good results to those who love Him is very comforting. God can and will turn all wrongs to rights if we can just allow him time to work them out in His way and at his time. This is about our faith in a loving and powerful God.
3) God has his purposes: “Who have been called according to his purposes.” (28c) Most of us, if not all of us, can’t see any good purpose for us to experience bad and wrong things happen to us. We are so used to see God’s purpose in working good things to us. That is why Job mourned and lamented the suffering God allowed it to happen. But God had a good purpose Job didn’t know at the moment. Our inability to see God’s purpose, much less good purpose, limits us to only see the wrong and bad. We need to trust that our good God always has our best interest in mind when he works in our life. God wants us to know that “His thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not our ways.” (Isaiah 55:8)
1) Life is full of bumps: Driving in streets or on highway, we drive on bumps, sometimes more than we like. But bumps are integral parts of streets and highways. Life is about the same way: we have more bumps than we like to. Some people may plunge into a ditch that takes so much tolls to recover. Others may just run over a big pothole and have to do alignment. No one has ever lived a pain free life. We will encounter wrong things, wrong people, make wrong decisions or choose a wrong turn in our life. No big deal. Life still goes on. It is a test of faith.
2) Don’t settle in dead ends: Being critical to others or pessimistic on your life situation gets you nowhere except dead ends. You will run out of your hope and energy so you get stuck with the wrong people and bad situation without a way out. Instead you have a better choice: choose to see people and things from the perspective of God, Paul and the Bible. Bring all your wrongs to Jesus and see how he can turn them into rights. Amen!