Philippians 4:8 – … think about these things.
There is no end to today’s self-help gurus, life coaches, and books telling you how to think. Be positive, speak your reality, think in a way that attracts success. Blah, blah, blah, on and on. It is all humanistic, self-focused babble.
Putting aside shallow, narcissistic, and ultimately unsatisfying concepts, we can confidently turn to Scripture to find out what we should focus our minds on that is truly fulfilling, genuinely productive, and eternally valuable. We will find clear instruction all throughout Scripture, but the focus in this section is on the gem that is Philippians 4:8-9.
Focus Your Mind on These
In the midst of instructing us on how to live a truly Godly life, Paul cuts to the chase and gives us a cherished checklist of the things we should be focused on: a collection of what is worthy of our meditation, and a concise synopsis describing what God says should fill our mind. If you ever wondered what you should spend your time concentrating on, God has answered the question for us:
- Whatever is true – sounds good but how do you know what is true? Simple, you will find it in the same Book you find this list. Truth, eternal Truth, transcendent Truth, steadfast Truth can be found in one place: the Bible – which is the very Words of God given to us as His divine message. If Truth cannot be found in God’s Word, it cannot be found at all. Meditate on TRUTH… could you fill your mind with anything better?
- Whatever is noble – in other words, whatever is deserving or worthy of respect; that cancels out a LOT of the cultural garbage that dominates our society today. Ask yourself: “is this worthy of respect?” If not, do not spend your time thinking about it.
- Whatever is just – simply said: whatever is RIGHT. Despite what the world says today, there is right and there is wrong. It is not hard to figure out which is which. Meditate on those things that are right or just.
- What is lovely – this is not some light emotional sentiment (“oh, isn’t that lovely…”). The Greek means “genuinely pleasing” implying those things that are sincerely kind, compassionate, and generous. True loveliness is the acts or words that promote kindness and goodwill.
- Whatever is of good report – whatever is highly regarded in God’s opinion, or things that are generally accepted as having a good reputation. In other words, it is NOT celebrity gossip, scandal, or the latest TV series that “pushes the boundaries” (just to name a few obvious things).
- Whatever is virtuous – does it promote goodness, holiness, righteousness, and love? Then we should fill our head with it.
- Whatever is praise worthy – is God honored by it? Then it is worthy of going into our minds and staying there.
We will never reach perfection when it comes to having our minds filled with only things that fit this list… but we have no reason not to be working towards that goal when God laid it out there for us in a plain list that anyone can understand.
It Does Not Happen on Accident
One last thing: this does not happen by default. You have to work hard on what (and what NOT) to put in your mind. You cannot stop something from entering your ear or eye, but you can stop it from building a nest or taking up residence in your heart and mind. That is the key here. When God says “meditate” or “focus,” He is talking about those things we give permission to STAY in our minds and define our thinking, our attitudes, our mindset.
Your mind is a vacuum. It sucks up everything around you but you can spit it back out or even refuse entry – but this does not happen naturally. You have to work at it. Kick the bad things out, refuse the unGodly thoughts, and then FILL your mind with the list above.
Much of what your mind sucks up though depends on where your vacuum is at: if you are constantly in the middle of garbage on the TV or Internet, that is what your vacuum sucks up. If you are routinely in the Bible, serving others, praying, being kind, and doing good works – guess what is sucked up into your mind? It is not rocket science. If you don’t want crap in your mind (sorry, but the word fits) don’t put yourself in the middle of the sewer.
That is how it works. No short cuts.