"Finally, brothers, 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. (4:8) Let me start with sharing what the Bible commentary says- it's spot on, "Paul understood the influence of one's thoughts on one's life. What people occupy their minds will sooner or later determine their speech and action." It's so true, isn't it? If we think about how miserable life is or how much we hate our jobs, doesn't that effect our motivation and desire to fight to make things better or do our jobs with joy?
In Paul's list on what to think about I love that he put, 'whatever is true' first. So many times I find myself with vain imaginings. I start thinking about the 'what if's?' scenarios and honestly, my 'what if's' thoughts are usually horrible thoughts! I'll think, 'What if she tells me she hates me?' or 'What if they won't help me if I need help' and stuff like that. I'm not thinking on what's true, I'm allowing my fears to rule my thoughts. I allow my insecurities to take over. It's so easy to follow any train of thought or emotion down a rabbit trail. Often I get a thought telling me that I'm a horrible mom and many times after I've had the thought I sit with it and eventually convince myself that I am! I know the enemy is constantly trying to trick me or lie to me to keep me from all the joy and peace that God has for me, but there are times I totally fall for his lies. I need to do better at identifying the lie, shut it down and think on what is true. I need to fight for the truth to reign in my thoughts. Paul is basically saying that what we think about is a choice we make- so think on what's true.
After encouraging us to think on what is true there is more! We should also think on what is:
noble, (possessing outstanding qualities)
right, (being in accordance with what is just, good, or proper)
pure, (unmixed with any other matter)
lovely, (delightful for beauty, harmony, or grace)
admirable, (deserving the highest esteem)
excellent (very good of its kind eminently good) and
praiseworthy (worthy of praise).
If I am to be completely honest here, I'd have to say that I have a tendency to think about and talk about all the things that went wrong in my day. Is it attention getting? Is it more exciting? Is it gossip? I don't know why exactly, but I do know that I'm too old for this nonsense to still be going on in my brain and it needs to stop. To fill my head and my day thinking on all that is lovely would actually be wonderful, instead of all the worry and anxiety that fills it right now.
So, why does Paul encourage us to think on all these magnificent things? Because, "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put into practice. AND THE GOD OF PEACE WILL BE WITH YOU." Yes! I want the God of peace to be with me. All my thoughts are anxious thoughts- 'how will this turn out?' 'Will we have enough money?' 'Are my kids making right choices?' 'How am I ever going to loose this weight!?' If I think on what is true and noble and right and pure and lovely, and admirable and excellent and praiseworthy, I'm essentially thinking God thoughts and then He, the God of peace, will be with me. We have to choose: do we want anxiety or peace? I choose peace. It's a choice. With each day I will surrender my thoughts to God and ask Him how to turn my thoughts to what is true.
Jesus, I know, and you know how my thoughts can rule my day or a moment of my day. Once I believe the lie I fall fast into negativity, stress and anxiety. Forgive me Lord. Help me to capture my thoughts, the lies and see the truth. Help me to fight against the lies that come into my head. I want to think on what is true, right, noble, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy so I may know your peace. Help me to make right choices with my thought life. I love you. In Jesus' Name. Amen.