The Christian Science Monitor recently ran an inspiring editorial pointing out numerous high points of worldwide progress in 2015. While there are serious challenges facing mankind, oftentimes fear and media hype make it seem that danger and destruction surround us at every turn. The editorial points out, however, that 2015 was “the best year in history for the average human being to be alive,” according to Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, a Washington think tank. From elections in Myanmar (Burma), to increased global female literacy, to a decrease in violent crime in the United States, much good was accomplished in 2015 (“The underreported good news,” CSMonitor.com).
Reading this editorial, I was reminded of Paul’s instruction to the Philippians as recorded in the Bible: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
What a remarkable instruction: “Think on these things.” Which things? These: truth, honesty, justice, purity, loveliness, things of a good report, virtue, praise. What an uplifting list of “things” to think on – not material objects or gains, but spiritual qualities and their evidence in human thought and experience. All of these qualities are expressive of God, good, who is Spirit itself. When we “think on these things,” we are giving active gratitude to our creator, God. We learn in Genesis 1 in the Bible that our all-good, all-powerful, all-loving God created us in His “image and likeness” (verses 26, 27) – which is to say that we are created perfect, whole, and good. Gratefully acknowledging this spiritual good becomes an effective prayer for healing, one that naturally and actively promotes further progress in our own lives and in the world. This is not to say that we should ignore or disengage from difficult situations. Problems need to be corrected, and they can be through our growing understanding of what is spiritually true, as we pray to better discern the “things” that are good, which brings them more in evidence in our experience.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, wrote a beautiful corollary instruction to Paul’s letter in her primary work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts” (p. 261).
Many thoughts come to us throughout our day, and we choose which to entertain and which to reject – which “things” we “think on.” As we elevate our thinking to a higher, spiritual nature, we become more conscious of the spiritual good that is already present, and we promote spiritual good in our own lives and in the lives of others. We can each do our part to make 2016 an even better year for celebrating progress – by gratefully acknowledging present spiritual good, by thinking on “these things”: truth, honesty, justice, purity, loveliness, things of a good report, virtue, and praise.
Now that’s a New Year’s resolution worth keeping.