If you’re just joining us, you’ll want to check out yesterday’s post HERE before reading today’s concluding post (we’ll discuss five more reasons why optimism works).
As we saw yesterday, the passage of scripture below is familiar but rarely practiced due to its challenging implications for the human spirit. We cannot carry out such a divine command with our own carnal strength and efforts. In order to live this out with God, we have to yield, surrender, and trust Him to help us, which are not always easy to do (yet incredibly rewarding). Indeed, to be a true optimist, we must first lean on Jesus Christ – the greatest and most radical optimist to ever live.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9
Here are five more reasons why optimism works:
6. Optimism encourages us to live out the second greatest commandment by loving others as ourselves.
By focusing on the good in others, we are less likely to entertain negative feelings, perceptions, and behaviors towards them (such as judgement, hatred, contempt, jealousy, bitterness, unforgiveness, slander, or criticism). Good is from God, and God is love.
In fact, because everything that is good is from God, by focusing on good we are becoming more like God. And if we think like God then we can love others like God. In contrast, when we focus on what others have done wrong, we’re not encouraged to love them. Praise be to God that He doesn’t focus on all of our shortcomings. His focus is on who we are in Christ and who He’s created us to be (sigh of relief). With His help, we can emulate our Father in this area.
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40
7. Optimism encourages us to love others as ourselves in fulfilling the second greatest commandment.
Yes, this is different than #6 above. If we are encouraging towards ourselves by focusing on the strengths God has given us (rather than any debilitating weaknesses), then we are more prone to treat others in the same fashion. When we can show ourselves grace and forgive ourselves of mistakes, then we are more likely to give others the benefit of the doubt (For example, “Hey man, no worries on making that harsh remark towards me. You should hear what I said to myself the other day. I had to forgive myself and I forgive you, too. I understand how easy it can be to say something we regret”).
Ever been around a person who is always encouraging towards you? They probably practice what they preach. On the contrary, have you been around a person who is easily angered and lashes out critically towards you? Again, they probably practice what they preach. Those who are enemies to others are often enemies to themselves. Let that sink in for a moment.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29
8. Optimism allows us to fulfill the greatest commandment, to love God with all our mind, heart, and soul.
As human beings, we are composed of all of these components: an intellectual mind, a heart with emotions and a soul, and the human will with its host of beliefs and values. Optimism begins by knowing in your mind that God is good. That belief will spread to the place deep within your soul, where you begin to really believe that He is good. Then you may begin to feel deeply captivated by Him in your heart. Naturally, this prompts you to speak praises to Him (maybe with shouts or a little dance, or whatever fancies your heart). As a result, you are living out a life of love for God because of His goodness.
Altogether, these steps illustrate how optimism can transform your life into fulfilling God’s greatest command. Everything starts with thinking about God’s goodness. Often times, the most miserable people on this planet (Christians included) are the ones who wholeheartedly believe that God doesn’t exist in their lives, doesn’t care, or is mean and angry all of the time. Do I even need to describe how this line of thinking contradicts the truth found in Philippians 4:8-12? Negative feelings will follow a negative mindset every single time, beloved.
9. Optimism encourages us to actually enjoy the life we have.
Beyond just seeing the world the way the Lord created it to be, this step means actually living your life the way He intends it to be. Why did God create mankind? This is a loaded question with a very simple answer: to love Him. God created us to be in a relationship with Him. He is love, and because He wanted more people to share in this love with Him (in addition to the Trinity), He created mankind.
Now, if love is the very thing that we all need, and love is really what fuels us in every important decision (loving ourselves, others, and God), then doesn’t it make sense that the Loving God wants us to enjoy our lives in abundance side-by-side with Him? Just as God walked in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day with Adam, God also desires to walk and talk with you. By focusing on this good truth, we’re free to enjoy why we’re here. We can forsake relentlessly striving just to be noticed by God and others.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
10. Optimism fuels young generations for a brighter future.
Greater than even giving ourselves hope for success and the hunger for a righteous change, optimism through the spoken Word gives life to our young. If you want your children to be successful, then speak God’s truth over them. His truth is good, so speaking good is of God. I’m not talking about flattery (a temporary high that serves no greater purpose), but genuine compliments on their God-given strengths and talents. Your children can flourish in success as they focus on the areas in which they really excel instead of striving to be well-rounded (a term I personally detest). When too much time and effort is spent on what they don’t do well, the confidence in their young souls can be quickly drained. Don’t try to manipulate weaknesses into strengths.
Not surprisingly, this same principle applies to leading teams in the workplace (through strength and talent management) as well as in marriage. Remember: No good fruit is produced by meditating on the negative. You can take note of what isn’t going well (yes, you have to acknowledge it), but place more of your efforts in meditating (praying, planning, and speaking) on what can go well through the grace of Christ. Real world changers spend their efforts on solutions instead of complaining about the problems.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21
“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Proverbs 1624
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