How Are Your Thoughts?
by Anna Kuta, News & Culture Editor at ReligionToday.com
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
We’ve all heard the phrase “Garbage in, garbage out” – it’s a statement that originated in reference to computer input and output but is now often applied to other areas of life. I, for one, heard it countless times growing up when it came to healthy food versus junk food, and I’m sure you’ve heard it used to refer to something along similar lines.
And as I was reading today’s verse a few days ago, I realized Paul is using the same principle here in reference to our minds. In instructing the Philippians about how to live godly lives, he includes this verse about what they should be thinking about and focusing on. Whatever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, virtuous, praiseworthy – this is what he tells them to meditate on. “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you,” he goes on in verse 9.
As Christians, our aim is to live a life pleasing and obedient to God. Our Christian lives should show a pattern of growth and sanctification – becoming more like Jesus and less like the sinful people we were before. But before our actions can line up with Jesus, our minds and hearts have to. Do we expect to live lives reflecting of Him if our minds are focused elsewhere, on sinful things? No, our minds should focus on godly things – things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy. Godliness in, godliness out.
Obviously, there are many terrible things in the world that we cannot escape – and indeed we as Christians are called to be in the world but not of it – but that just means it’s especially crucial to keep our minds focused on things that mirror and reflect God’s nature and goodness. It actually goes further than just our thoughts – it means guarding our thoughts as well: being careful just what we willingly let in to our minds and hearts. As Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
No, I may not have any control over things I see and hear in the world on a daily basis, but I can choose what I decide to fill my mind with on my own time. The music I listen to, the books I read, the conversations I take part in, the movies and TV shows I choose to watch – are they things that will help my thoughts have the characteristics Paul talks about in today’s verse? If not, I truly need to reevaluate what I am feeding my mind.
And, of course, when in doubt, we all should remember that there is no better true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy thing to meditate on than the word of God itself.
Intersecting Faith & Life
Where do your thoughts go when your mind wanders? How have your thoughts today lined up with Paul’s description of what we should think about – things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy? Pray that God will reveal areas in your life that are not producing godly thoughts, and pray that He will help you desire to focus on things that are pleasing to Him.
1 Peter 2:12