Philippians 4:8 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. 9 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.
I am convinced that this pair of sentences in Philippians 4 is one of the most helpful couplets for getting control of our minds. No matter where we live in the world today, we have many difficult things upon which we can focus. Our thoughts get dragged down, away from God. We find ourselves pondering evil and its effects in each of our cultures.
Just recall with me (but don’t dwell on these things!) how often we hear of murder, of starvation, of cheating, of corruption. We get a heavy dose of bad news as we simply go about our daily routines. Day after day, death, disease, danger, and distress all gnaw away at our hearts and our hopes. Until finally, these are the only things that occupy our thoughts.
In these few words which we find in one of his letters, Paul gives us a mind-full of things that can occupy us each day. God knows that evil stalks us. God knows we are caught up in the powerful sway of that which wants to destroy our peace. So God inspired the Apostle Paul to give us better things to ponder, to occupy our thoughts. He gives us instructions here because this is not what we find ourselves pursuing on our own.
Think on These Things – Changing Your Thought Patterns to Change Your Life
Think on these things: whatever is true. Do not give any credence to the lies we hear every day. Be done with shading the truth ourselves. Give the true things in life a chance to pervade our thought processes. This takes some effort. This takes a commitment to following God’s call to our minds. But the truth, says, Jesus will set you free!
Think on these things: whatever is noble. The word noble is one which refers to things which are worthy of our honor. In our world, no matter where we live, we discover that to be honorable and noble is to be considered strange. It is out of step with how life is. We are encouraged to go along to get along. Soon we find ourselves walking in places we should not go, speaking things we do not want to say, and doing things of which we are ashamed. God calls us to be thinking about honorable things. Then we will not be enamored of the sickly things that are all too common in our lives.
Think on these things: whatever is right. The pain of loss, the burden of work which dehumanizes us, the corruption of those who are supposed to work for our good, and the suffering that comes from fighting against that which is wrong all turn us into cynical people. Our thoughts become filled with the knowledge of evil and not of good. So, God calls us to get focused on the things that are right. In each of our lives, we can find something that is right. God says, ponder that. Ponder the good. Block out the wrong but fill your mind with the right.
Think on these things: whatever is pure. In our world today there seems to be nothing sacred anymore. Recently on American television a man many like to listen to went on a rant in which he declared that God was actually an evil being. And he cursed the idea of God. The Word of God calls us to not give the man a second thought. Instead let us focus on what is sacred and pure. We will never overcome evil by countering it with hatred and spite. But we can overcome evil with good. The only way for our minds to be prepared for such a battle is for us to ponder the pure and sacred things of God.
Think on these things: whatever is lovely. Our eyes are drawn to the ugly side of life. We see the wasted lives, the sadness in a grieving parent’s eyes, the hopelessness of those with no work, the hollow look of those addicted to a drug or to some other substance. God calls us to find something lovely to focus our eyes on. Find a tree and ponder it. A bush with a blossom bringing splash of color to your waiting eyes. A baby with fresh young skin that has not yet lost its tender luster in life. Look at and ponder these things says God. Let these lovely visions remind you of the creation God made before humanity corrupted it. Let your mind gain fresh hope from seeing a glimpse of God’s creative handiwork which draws you toward him every day.
Think on these things: whatever is admirable. The world is filled with the glory of God if we just stop to ponder the power of the creator who made the sun which blazes in the sky and gives energy to the earth. The earth is filled with the glory of God who has made us all with such a delicate balance in our very cellular structure that we can actually live! The sky is filled with the glory of God who made the moon and placed it in orbit around the earth. The earth is filled with the glory of God who gave us feelings to express, the words to do so, the love to bind us together, and the joy which radiates from one person to the next.
If anything is anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things. Why? Because when we do, the peace of God will fill us. The peace of God will calm our worried souls. The peace of God that no one can understand will guard us when the times are terrible, when the pressures of life are unbearable, when the hope feels like it has drained away, then God will fill us with his hope, his love, his faith.