My occupation is words. Whether I am writing or editing, I am using words to convey ideas so that readers can understand. I can usually see what’s wrong with someone else’s writing (though sometimes not with my own) and figure out how to fix it.
As an editor, I am paid for being critical. My job is to see what’s wrong with the way words are used. This ability becomes a disability when I carry it over into my personal life and always look for what is wrong. Focusing on what’s wrong can cause us to miss everything that’s good.
The apostle Paul had reason to focus on what was wrong in the Philippian church. Certain people were preaching the gospel out of selfish ambition to add to Paul’s suffering (Phil. 1:16). But instead of concentrating on the negative, he chose to look at the positive and rejoice in it: Jesus Christ was being preached (v.18).
God wants us to be discerning—we need to know good from bad—but He doesn’t want us to focus on the bad and become critical or discouraged. Even in circumstances that are less than ideal (Paul was writing from prison), we can find something good because in times of trouble God is still at work.