No matter what major or minor difficulties we as believers find ourselves in, it seems the hardest area of our lives to keep honorable before God is our thought lives. The mind is where so many sinful practices begin – by being unthankful, or fearful, or just plain old self-centered. Once we start thinking a certain way, that way will undoubtedly shine through in our actions.
…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just…
For instance, if we start becoming unthankful for what we already have, we will start wanting more than we truly need, and start giving into the temptation to spend more than we should on earthly so-called treasures that will rot and rust and pass away. A pattern of unthankfulness in the mind will lead to ungrateful speech, whining, and a “have it MY way” sort of living. If we start worrying about things, or allow ourselves to meditate on our fears (of whatever), it will not only stress our minds but also our bodies, leading to potential physical problems such as sleeplessness, indigestion, headaches (etc). If we start thinking that OUR way is the only way to do things or that OUR needs are more important than another’s, we will begin neglecting others and fail to love them as God commands us to.
…whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable…
But we don’t have to live like that. We don’t have to suffer mental stress from wanting more or being afraid or lacking joy! No, rather, we can find joy and freedom from worry even in the midst of the most dire circumstances. Paul could certainly attest to this, as he spent years in prison and under house arrest, was shipwrecked and beaten and left for dead, and basically faced trial after trial once he became a Christian. And yet, he found joy. He found contentment. He found peace, in the middle of all that trouble.
…if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise…
It doesn’t matter how easy or how hard your life seems to be – every one of us, I daresay, struggles with thinking in a manner that pleases God. If you were to examine your actions, and determine specific sins that you struggle with, they would probably all stem from some pattern of sinful thinking. But we are no longer slaves to those thought patterns, if we have truly placed our faith in Christ! He gives us the power to overcome temptation, to bind our sinful thoughts and overthrow them, and to allow His Spirit to renew our minds and fill our hearts with thoughts pleasing to Him:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, KJV).
So, pay attention to what you think about – and to how you think about things. Are your thoughts filled with love for God and others, respectfulness, fairness, truth, grace, and kindness? Are your thoughts commendable before God?
“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” (Philippians 4:8).