Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy— meditate on these things.
The application of this verse as it applies to this chapter is twofold: First, recognize one of the most important “treatments” for recovering from word wounds is to remember, while accepting any truth a criticism may contain, to also recognize that a critical spirit says more about the critic than the criticized. When this happens we are to look for the good in others and mediate, focus on those things. Second, we also know that not everyone who creates word wounds is a Christian and there is nothing loving and pure to meditate on in the sense of why the word wounds are created. That means the noble, just, pure, lovely, things of good report, virtue and praiseworthiness are going to have to be focused on without that person in view. What I mean by that is you will need some positive distractions when the word wounds are a constant barrage from an uncaring source. When this happens it is easy for it to become all consuming, it becomes your daily meditation, focus, and this is not healthy for you even when you can do nothing about the unhealthy persons presence in your life. This is where a healthy church family comes in and participating in noble, just, pure, lovely things of virtue and good report can be helpful in overcoming Friendly Fire.
I read a statement the other day that said; “Some people find fault like there is a reward for it.” Such people are hard on our joy especially when they are a family member, by marriage or birth, or when they are a fellow Christian. (We’ll talk more about that in chapter 8) It is in situations that are impossible to change that we must remember; We are not defined by the words of others. Our worth and value as Christians is in Christ. We are not perfect but are being perfected, and when encountering the one who seems to think they have “the ministry of criticism” we need to keep in mind the “noble, just and pure” things about them as those who also are in Christ. Not easy, but essential. As any pastor does, I have my critics and counselors, those who disagree with this or tell me I should have said that or inform me of what they would have said and I have to say it is not always easy to have these conversations without getting a bit defensive in your mind. I also have to say that in some of these cases, not all, I have come to enjoy these exchanges because I realized that the intentions of some, not all, are noble, pure and lovely. The person sharing with me is doing so in hopes of helping me or adding to what the Lord has already given me and wanting me to do better, but, I had to look for this in order to see it. After all, you’ll never find what your not looking for!
We also need to remember when encountering words that wound that the things Paul wrote about in Philippians are true about us as well and we are not the sum total of our weaknesses. Everyone has weaknesses and for those who see you as only those weaknesses, they have the problem and your value is not defined by their words. It is not easy to let “wounding words” go or to act like they don’t hurt us, because they do. So when we come under friendly fire we must heed the counsel of Paul and meditate on praiseworthy things, in them if they are present and around us, which is always possible. Now I do have to say that we as Christians are not called to be mindless, spineless door mats that any and everyone wipes their feet on but, we do have a God tempered response mechanism in the Holy Spirit defined by the word of God. The fact is that doing what pleases God when under friendly fire is personally uplifting. Sometimes Christians find themselves returning friendly fire which obviously compounds the issue but the answer is not “do nothing” the answer is “do the right thing,” the God thing. Keep in mind the goal of this book and chapter is not how to change others or stop the flow of word wounds, the focus of this book is you. How to live with the unchangeable or irreconcilable or unrepairable when you have done as much as depends on you to be at peace.
Excerpt from “Dancing With the Scars” now available on Amazon.