To Think Or Not To Think (Phil. 4)
The Bible says in Philippians chapter 4:8, Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
The eternal message of God to mankind can be summed up in one word gospel which means good news. And it can also be summed up in one name Jesus. The message of God, which has been carefully revealed over the millennia, is a positive message. One of the primary tools that God has given us to understand His message and to walk closely with Him is the mind. One of the primary ways that we serve God is simply by what we think about. The Bible tells us what to think about, what not to think about, and the results of both. Even some of the people of the world have recognized the importance of the mind and understand the concept of the power of positive thinking. But only the Word of God can provide the way for us to use our minds the way that God created the mind to be used. The question is, how do we properly use our minds?
First, to be successful in using your mind the way that God wants you to, you must understand and be prepared to fight the spiritual battle that is waging in your mind. This is accomplished by girding up the loins of your mind. I Peter 1:13 says, Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
Every day there will be temptations; there will be our own wills, lusts, and evil thoughts to battle against. If you wake up in the morning and do not take your spiritual armor with you, then you will not be prepared. God wants us to enjoy life. But He also wants us to have our primary focus on the spiritual warfare and the daily task at hand. Our service to God will sometimes need to take priority over our own enjoyment and pleasure. There are times when it will be true with school, work, family, and other ministries.
You will find it very hard to think the right kind of thoughts if you do not first prepare yourself for the effort that it requires to fight the good fight of faith. Gird up the loins of your mind and hope in the grace of God that has its basis in the forgiveness of sins found in Jesus Christ alone. To gird basically means to clothe. The thoughts that you think will either be the armor that you mentally wear or the wounds that you inflict in your own faith and provisional righteousness.
Secondly, we must know specifically what to think about. Philippians 4:8 gives us the foundation for knowing what to think about every second of the day. This verse tells us 6 types of thoughts that should fill our minds. We will take a look at the first two and the last two.
First, it says whatsoever things are true. There is nothing more important in the world than truth. And of all the great and wonderful truths in the Bible there is nothing more positive than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The word Gospel means good news. It is good news because God loves you. And Jesus Christ, the Son of God, took upon Himself the wrath and the judgment of God that we deserved for our terrible sins. He has given us eternal life freely and we can be confident and rejoice always because with Jesus there is forgiveness for our sins. Of course there are many other wonderful truths to think about. But your salvation is the most important. Paul said it best in I Corinthians 2:2 when he said, For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. If all we knew was that Jesus died for us and has forgiven us for our sins and given us eternal life with God, it would be enough. And we would be a lot happier.
Secondly Philippians 4:8 says, whatsoever things are honest. The Greek word for honest is elsewhere translated grave like in I Timothy 3:8 which says, Likewise must the deacons be grave. The word grave has the idea of being focused on spiritual things. There are right things to think about and there are wrong things to think about. Paul said that all things are lawful for me but not expedient. In other words there are things in life that are not sinful but they do not help my service for Christ. Some thoughts are not sinful, such as thinking about baseball or ice cream. But would you be better off watching baseball for 2 hours or meditating on the Word of God? Of course there is a time and a season for everything. It may not be possible to think only about the Word of God. But you will always be better off when you think about the Bible. Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.
Thirdly this verse says, things that are lovely. The word Lovely comes from the same stem as one of the Greek words for love in the sense of friendship. There are many things in the world that are lovely. And some of the most lovely things in the world can be other people, if you have the right attitude and thoughts towards them. Remember your attitude towards other people should never be based on how spiritual or kind you think another person is but it should always be based on the fact that Jesus died for him or her, just as He died for you. Whoever God loves you should love. And the Bible says that God so loved the world. Jesus said love your enemies. This may be one of the hardest challenges in the Christian life. But it starts with what you think about them. If only more people in the world would learn to think friendly thoughts toward others there would be less hatred, war and murder.
And fourthly, this verse says whatsoever things are of good report. There is plenty of bad in the world. Some people and even some preachers spend way too much time talking about and criticizing all the problems of the world that have been here since the fall of man. But the Bible is a positive message. And a preacher of the gospel should remember that the gospel means good news. When you think about and you preach the Word of God make sure you place the right emphasis on things of good report. No matter how much bad there is in the world, there will always be much more good. This is why Jesus said such wonderful things as I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. All things work together for good to them who love God. I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always, and many, many more words of good report.
And finally, there are countless positive results to thinking the right kind of thoughts. Perhaps one of the greatest is being connected to the Spirit and filled with the fruits of the Spirit in the way that God would have every believer be. Galatians 5:22-23 lists the fruits of the Spirit, Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance: There is a lot of truth to the saying, hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil.
We human beings have more control over our circumstances and spiritual success in this live than we often realize. Knowing what the positive results are of disciplining and training your thought processes, should motivate you to let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.
Faith connects us to God. The strength of your faith will partly be determined by what you think about. What you think about effects how close you are to God. That is why meditating on the Word of God with an open and submissive heart and mind will always do wonders to help you be filled with the Spirit and His Fruits. Galatians 6:7 says, Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Sow a thought and you reap a deed. Sow a deed and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a life. If you consistently think about Jesus Christ and the promises of God you will reap the thoughts, deeds, and habits that will glorify God and bring you peace and rest.
Copyright; 2002 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved