An old man walked into an exclusive antique shop. He seemed strangely out of place. His clothes were old and faded but meticulously clean. His face and hands showed that he had known a life of hard work.

After looking around for a while, he left. Ten days later he returned. He found a beautiful piece of old glass and made a down payment on it. Each week he made an additional payment until it was paid in full. The shopkeeper, curious about this unusual customer, asked what he would do with his purchase. He said, “I bought it for my little apartment. It isn’t much, but I bring to it, from time to time, only the best and most beautiful things that I can find.”

That’s a great philosophy of life – to bring to the place where you live the best and most beautiful things in life. That’s what Paul recommended. He wrote, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Philip. 4:8).

What you think about has a lot to do with your happiness. Paul is a prime example of that. He wrote these words to the Philippians from a prison in Rome. Interestingly enough, however, he did not talk much about how difficult his confinement was. He didn’t gripe about the food or how hard the bed was. The theme of his letter to the Philippians was Christian joy! He chose not to dwell on bitterness, hatred, revenge or anger. Instead, he dwelt on things that were true, noble, right, pure, and lovely.

We all have a choice. If we choose to do so, we can concentrate on everything that is wrong in our lives and make ourselves miserable, or we can concentrate on things that are right in our lives, and make ourselves much happier.

There is an old story about a farmer who had lived on the same farm all his life. He constantly griped about it. One day he contacted a real estate agent and asked him to list the property for sale. The agent wrote up a description of the property and let the man read it. The description talked about the ideal location, the fertile land, the up-to-date equipment, and the well-bred stock. The man said, “Just a minute. I want to read that again.” After reading the description a second time, he said to the agent, “Changed my mind. I’m not going to sell. Been looking for a place like that all my life.”

Got a lot of problems in your life? Welcome to the crowd. Instead of concentrating upon the problems, as Paul said, how about concentrating on the things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable?

Lynn Jones is a retired pastor, supply preacher and author who lives in Oxford. He can be reached at

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