Wisdom from Taylor Swift?

John Hill

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you" (Philippians 4:8).

I recently heard a song that I cannot get out of my head; something that doesn’t happen to me a lot. Taylor Swift of pop culture fame has a song entitled, “Shake it Off” with the following chorus:

'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heart-breakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

I obviously cannot endorse Miss Swift’s entire song or other work by her, but I find her chorus strangely encouraging as she seems to understand that there will always be those whose motivations are to discourage, deceive, and dishonor us. Her answer: just shake it off!

But I might suggest another approach: When life, people, and the world seem to be against you and working overtime for your demise, we are encouraged by the Apostle Paul in Philippians to “Rejoice in the Lord;” and lest we think there is a time not to rejoice, Paul adds the word, “Always” and then repeats his admonition to “rejoice.”

In a nutshell, Paul reminds us that our God is worth rejoicing over even during the hardest of times and that because of God’s power we have no need of anything save loving Him and then spreading that love to others. But Paul also understands that looking to God when pressure mounts is easier said than done so he also writes words like, “do not be anxious about anything…” and encourages us to pray and rely on God so that His peace can guard our hearts and minds.

What Paul wants us to do is “shake off” whatever is causing us stress and leave it to God. Then, he tells us to refocus our minds on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise. In other words, get our minds back onto the things of God. After that we are to adjust our behavior so that we practice the things that we learn from our spiritual mentors. I don’t know if Paul would have Miss Swift on his iPod; and I don’t know if Taylor Swift cares who Paul is, but there is wisdom in not worrying about what others think or can do to you. And there is life change if you can replace that worry with a complete dependence on God. So go ahead: shake it off; and then think on the things of God instead. When you do, you will be able to enjoy the peace of God as it guards your heart and mind.

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