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 (KJV)
What if everyone in the whole world—kings and presidents, corporate leaders, tribal chiefs, priests and pastors, parents and children, everyone—heeded the above injunction? What if YOU and I looked at this list and committed ourselves to obedience? From this point on, we will think only about things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy.
Proverbs 23:7 says we are what we think about. A quick inventory over just the past couple of days finds thoughts of past failure, memories of slights, concern over ministries… But I also see thoughts of incredible gratitude, God’s faithfulness, his abundance, his loving care, his mercy, and joy in the relationships he has planted in my life. Can you imagine what life would become if only the true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy thoughts were allowed to remain and even to saturate every tiny cell in our brains? The way that would affect every aspect of our being—our relationships, our work, our health, our future…
Some of God’s promises assure that we are kept in perfect peace when we keep our minds on him (Isa. 26:3). Couldn’t we all embrace 24/7 perfect peace? That’s peace all the time. And that’s a promise—from GOD. If we believed and activated the mind of Christ in us (another promise—I Cor. 2:16), we’d live and act differently. Talk about transformation. And that peace from God guards our hearts (emotions) and minds (Phil. 4:7), keeping us stable and calm whatever the journey brings.
I don’t see the Scripture talking about denial. I believe these encouragements are meant to keep us from camping in negative territory. We’re just to pass through those places that cause pain and grief, acknowledging, addressing, processing, and then move forward into the next part of our unique pilgrimage. We intentionally embrace the healthy, positive thoughts that spring from abiding in Christ and intentionally reject those lies that frequently tempt us and tear at the work God is doing in us.
It appears that we are very much responsible for what we allow to remain in our heads. Paul tells us that we are changed by changing our minds (Rom. 12). We’ve got to choose to fill our minds with things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy. We must “set our minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2), things that make us negative, doubtful, fearful, anxious, unloving, and so on. Essentially, we are to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (II Cor. 10:5).
Can you imagine what would happen if, from this point forward, you and I choose and discipline ourselves to think in the way God has told us? I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it.
Father, knowing our fragile makeup, you give us strong words of encouragement for living godly, joyous, peaceful lives. Now help us to discipline ourselves to access all that you have for us. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.