How would Paul summarize things? Well, he would suggest that I fill my mind on some things that are positive. Not the power of positive thinking but something way beyond that. I need to practice these things. Peace will be mine if I do. There is a blessing attached to this.
Here are some ideas he suggests to me to think on and contemplate about:
- What is true?
- What is so amazingly noble?
- Who has a reputation for being Godly and who is authentic?
- What is God compelling me to do in His power?
- What do I know about God’s gracious nature?
- The best that I have seen Jesus do.
- Things that are so amazingly beautiful
- All I must give thanks and praise for
There is a lot here to focus on. If I focus my thoughts and action on these things, I will have peace.
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. What you have learned, received, and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
English Standard Version. (2016). (Philippians 4:8–9). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Peace involves the heart and the mind. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you” (Isa. 26:3).
- Wrong thinking leads to wrong feeling, and before long the heart and mind are pulled apart and we are strangled by worry.
- We must realize that thoughts are real and powerful, even though they cannot be seen, weighed, or measured. We must bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of the Messiah” (2 Cor. 10:5).
Paul spells out in detail the things we ought to think about as disciples of Jesus.
Whatever is true. Dr. Walter Cavert reported a survey on worry that showed that only 8 percent of the things people worried about were legitimate matters of concern! The other 92 percent were either imaginary, never happened, or involved matters over which the people had no control anyway.
- Satan is the liar, and he wants to corrupt our minds with his lies.
- “Has God said?” is the way he approaches us, just as he approached Eve.
- The Holy Spirit controls our minds through truth.
- The devil tries to control them through lies.
- Whenever we believe a lie, Satan takes over!
Whatever is honest and just. This means “worthy of respect and right.” There are many things that are not respectable, and followers of Jesus should not think about these things. This does not mean we hide our heads in the sand and avoid what is unpleasant and displeasing, but it does mean we do not focus our attention on dishonorable things and allow them to control our thoughts.
Whatever is pure, lovely, and of good report. “Pure” refers to moral purity, since the people then, as now, were constantly attacked by temptations to sexual impurity.
- “Lovely” means “beautiful, attractive.”
- “Of good report” means “worth talking about, appealing.”
- The believer must major on the high and noble thoughts, not the base thoughts of this corrupt world.
Whatever possesses virtue and praise. If it has virtue, it will motivate us to do better; and if it has praise, it is worth commending to others. No Christian can afford to waste “mind power” on thoughts that tear him down or that would tear others down if these thoughts were shared.
If you will compare this list to David’s description of the Word of God in Psalm 19:7–9, you will see a parallel.
The law of Yahweh [the Lord] is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of Yahweh [the Lord] is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of Yahweh [the Lord] are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of Yahweh [the Lord] is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of Yahweh [the Lord] is clean, enduring forever; the rules of Yahweh [the Lord] are true, and righteous altogether.
The disciple of Jesus who fills his heart and mind with God’s Word will have a “built-in radar” for detecting wrong thoughts. “Great peace have they which love your Law” (Ps. 119:165). Right thinking is the result of daily meditation on the Word of God.