As I write today, I’d like to honor my father, Dwight Jackson, who is celebrating his anniversary of forty years in the ministry this month. When he heard God calling him in March 1975, he didn’t understand how a shy, backward young man like him could preach the Gospel. Thankfully, though, he understood that when God calls, our answer should be “yes.” He has continued to say “yes” for these forty years, and God has continued to use him mightily to touch countless lives. I’ve been blessed all my life to know him not only as my father, but also as my pastor. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from him is the importance of focusing on good things.
At any given point, we can usually find both good and bad circumstances around us. Right now, you probably have some positive things going on in your life, but you probably also have some negative. Unfortunately, it seems that human nature is to dwell on the negative. For instance, you may receive five compliments in a day and one criticism, but the comment that sticks in your mind the most is the one critical remark. You see, focusing on good things does not come naturally. That’s why we have to take control of our thinking and choose to dwell on what is right, not what is wrong.
The apostle Paul understood the importance of this principle and therefore told the Philippian church members, “Whatsoever things are honest … just … pure … lovely … of good report … if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). His words apply to us today as well. We should take stock of our thoughts and make sure the things we dwell on are “of good report.” Even if you’ve been given some bad reports lately, don’t dwell on those. Look for good things and dwell on those instead.
I’ve seen my dad do this many times. Much of his forty years of ministry has been spent helping people who are facing bad reports. But Dad has a way of bringing people hope by finding a good report. He may visit someone who’s been in the hospital several days and is growing discouraged by their condition. But Dad will notice that even while they may not be completely well, their condition is at least improving. He’ll comment about how much better they look from the last time he visited them and how he believes they are on the mend. He’ll then pray with them, believing God for their complete healing. That little bit of good news can completely change a person’s perspective and encourage them to believe for God’s best! We should all make sure that we frame our perspectives with good reports, not bad ones, and that we help others to do the same.
Jesus said, “Seek, and you will find,” (Matt. 7:7). If you look hard enough, you can always find something that isn’t working out in your life, but the same could be said about the good. If you look for good, you will find it. I encourage you to look for the good! If you’ve been given a bad report, don’t dwell on it. Find a good report in God’s Word and meditate on that instead. Don’t allow your mind to feed on discouragement and defeat! “Trust in the LORD, and do good. Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness” (Psalm 37:3). Know that God is a good God, and He has good things in store for you!