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
Estimates vary, but the average person thinks over 6,000 thoughts per day. That’s about 1 thought every 10 seconds of our waking hours. Notifications on our phone, radio, social media, news, billboards, work, family, magazines, books, etc. And our brains continue to be active even while we sleep. Our minds are very, very busy. So, what’s on your mind?
What you choose to think about directly effects your relationships, work, and health. So you must choose your thoughts carefully. It is all too easy for us to passively take in whatever content has been curated by social media algorithms, crafted by marketing gurus, or dreamed up by someone in the entertainment industry. Instead, choose your thoughts wisely.
In Philippians 4 Paul gives a helpful framework for choosing high quality, God-honoring thoughts. He uses eight descriptive words: true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, praiseworthy (Phil 4:8). Each word can be used to assess the content and quality of our thoughts. For example, when it comes to content, am I dwelling on an idea that simply isn’t true? If you are fretting about money, which is a common struggle, you may be questioning whether God will provide. Not true. He always provides. Or take the word honorable. Are you’re watching or listening to things that are not honorable, or worthy of respect? If so, why? With so many things in this world that are worthy of our time and attention, why dwell on something unworthy?
Surrounding Paul’s wise counsel are several important clues about why your thought lives are so important. First, Christians are supposed to be joyful people (verse 4). Second, the Lord is always by your side (verse 5). Third, gratitude-filled prayers are a powerful weapon to combat anxiety (verse 6). Fourth, you can experience God’s peace despite difficult circumstances (verse 7). Fifth, you can choose what you think about (verse 8). And sixth, learning how to do these things takes practice (verse 9).
Your thoughts matter. Poor thinking habits make us vulnerable to joyless, anxious, prayerless, ungrateful, and worldly lives. So, if any of those symptoms are present in your life, God has graciously provided a solution. Humbly confess to the Lord what’s been on your mind. Seek His forgiveness, thank Him for His grace, and depend on His strength to set your mind on what pleases Him (see also Colossians 3:2, Romans 12:1-2). Then experience afresh the joy, gratitude and peace that only the Lord can give.