Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.Philippians 4:8
So, what are you thinking about these days? If your mind is like mine, it is always going. I am always thinking. But what I am thinking about? Am I thinking about those things that are true and honorable and just and pleasing and commendable? Or am I going down another road with my thoughts? Am I thinking about what Paul describes as “these things” that are worthy of praise, or am I thinking about those things that are not? When you think about it (no pun intended), if Paul is encouraging us to think about “these things,” then there must be “those things” that we shouldn’t be thinking about! One of the reasons why I started this blog is to make sure that I am spending time thinking about the right things, and that I am offering others these reminders, too. There is plenty in this world that tries to get us thinking about the wrong things, so this blog is one more offering to help us all think about the right things.
This reminder from Paul is not just in his Letter to the Philippians. Paul also reminds the readers of his Letter to the Romans to have their minds be renewed by not being conformed to this world:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.Romans 12:2
We should not be thinking about what the rest of the world is thinking, in other words, but we should be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we think about what is good and acceptable and perfect, which is to do God’s will.
In Colossians, Paul reminds us to “set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2), which I wrote about here: 3:12 – A Moment for Prayer.
Paul also tells us that we should “let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5), and that we should “take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5). What we think about matters, and Paul clearly believes that we have some say over what we think. Science agrees with him, which is why we have things like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
When we think about the right things, we not only renew our minds – we also guard our hearts. Proverbs 4:23 puts it this way: “Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it are the sources of life.” And one of my favorite pre-sermon prayers, in Psalm 19, asks that the “meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” When we think about the right things, and guard our hearts, this psalm reminds us that the words of our mouth will also be acceptable and pleasing in God’s sight.
It all starts with watching our thoughts – with thinking about the things that are commendable and worthy of praise. It can be challenging to do this in our world today, and that makes it all that much more important. So, my reminder today – to myself and to you – is to let us not be conformed to this world, and think as the world thinks; but instead, let us set our minds on things that are above, and think about those things that are true and honorable and just and pleasing and commendable. To the glory of God. Amen