What We Think About

In our Tuesday morning men’s Bible study, we just finished walking through the book of Philippians. As a result, we took a moment to look back over the lessons we learned. As we did so, I was reminded of a principle which is vital for today. Our culture is built on negativity. The news, social media, and even our everyday conversations tend to be negative and critical in nature. Depression rates have tripled over the last year.[i] Much of this is due to the fact that we are what we think about.

In Philippians 4:8, Paul reminds us to think guard what we think about: 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. Our lives will drastically change if we choose to dwell on things worthy of our time. We determine these things through their character. This verse challenges us to ask several questions about our thoughts.

Are they true? Is it marked by truth and dependable? We live in a culture that has downplayed truth and has elevated everyone’s own opinion. First, we must look to Scripture and determine the applicable commands and principles. Second, we should seek out the truth from those who have experience, study, and training in the area. While your Uncle Cecil certainly has an opinion on Facebook, perhaps the opinion of the expert in the field (through study and experience) should hold a little more value. Yet, even then, we don’t follow blindly. We always ask, “what is true?”

Is it honorable? Is it worthy of respect, noble and dignified? Much of what captures our attention is mental junk food. How do we know if it is honorable? 2 Corinthians 8 informs us that things find their honor in their relation to God (v. 21). Is it in line with the Word of God? Does it make God look as good as He really is? If so, think about that.

Is it just? Are you filling your mind with things that respond properly to sin? Do those things or people call it sin regardless of the political, racial, or social status of the individual? As believers we are to love biblical justice. We should treat every individual with care and treat every sin as sin. Just because someone is hypocritically pointing out that an action is sinful does not alleviate our duty to also treat it as sin.

Is it pure? Is it morally undefiled? We live in an immoral culture which praises sexual perversion. We live in an immoral culture which honors sinful actions. Are you filling your mind with things that are holy? Psalm 19:9 reminds us, The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.

Is it lovely? Is it something whose grace is attractive? When we consider loveliness, we must be sure to use God’s definition not our hypersexualized cultured definition. Beauty should be measured by things that are full of grace and make God look good. Not just outward beauty, but also inward holiness. What might this include? Things like an engine working in harmony, a symphony arranged in simple complexity, or nature in vivid beauty. Things that declare God’s glory.

Is it commendable? Is this something that we can stand before God and be proud of? Is this something we should commend to fellow believers? Or is this something that we should be ashamed of? We spend too much time with our minds in the gutter and not lifted to heaven.

Is it excellent? With so many options in this word today, why occupy our minds with things that are mediocre? God’s desire is that whatever we do, we do well. God is not a God who simply gets by. Whatever He does, He states, “It is good.” The Bible tells us whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. What God does, He does well. So, what we do we should also strive to do well. We ought to strive for excellence and think about things that are excellent.

Is it worthy of praise? One man states, “Believers must not think on what is trivial, temporal, mundane, common, and earthly, but rather on what is heavenly, and so, worthy of awe, adoration, and praise.”[ii] Our world is filled with temporal and unworthy things. We can get caught up in everyday life and the junk food for the mind. Yet, believers ought to seek to set our minds on higher things. Things that declare God’s praise.

Social media, the news media, entertainment, and even our friends drag our minds down and force us to dwell on things which are not worthy of our time. We would be in a much better spiritual state if we would learn to filter our thoughts through Philippians 4:8. I challenge you today to set down your phone and turn off the tv. Instead, pick up your Bible and read. Take a walk or a drive and look at nature. Spend time with others expressing thankfulness for them and for God. And then watch how your viewpoint changes. Don’t settle for mental junk food.

[i]https://www.bing.com/newtabredir?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.webmd.com%2Flung%2Fnews%2F20200902%2Fa-us-pandemic-of-depression-too-rates-are-triple-pre-covid-levels accessed 2/12/2021

[ii] MacArthur, John Colossians & Philippians. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Chicago: Moody Press, 1992. p. 290.