"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."
i've known this verse for years and years. it's used often, mentioned a lot, and paraphrased even more. why?
no, really... why?
well, because our thoughts need direction.
because, we are all sinners (Romans 3:10-11 "there is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is non who seeks for God."). we are born into sin and dwell in our sin. just read the book of Romans to get it pounded into your head, we are not the innocent "neutral" beings that the world likes to portray us as. every tiny beautiful baby born is a sinner and capable of the foulest most evil acts known to men, but for the grace of God and His restraining hand.
and it is by that same grace that we are rescued from our sin. (read more here to see how to be saved). our sins are all forgiven because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and we are made white as snow. yet, even after true saving faith and the Holy Spirit entering our heart, we battle with our old self. especially in the mind.
oh, i may act nice and sweet on the outside, but sometimes... sometimes, i may be fighting jealousy, pride, anger, or self pity on the inside. i know they are wrong so i do my best to not let them show, but too often, i let them stew in my brain. too often, i feel justified in letting my thoughts wander there.
and it's out of our thoughts that our actions come. what is on the inside comes out.
Romans also says it this way (Romans 8:6-8)
"For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile towards God... and those who are in the flesh cannot please God."
so it's laid out for us. no loop holes. great detail by the author to help us understand what we should be thinking about.
think about things that are...
... true! the Word is always true vs. the words of men. the things God has in my life right now are true vs. imagined things (personally, a dream house, a someday vacation, even that "Christian" novel isn't true and takes so many of my thoughts captive)
... honorable! we're talking about things that are above reproach here. tv isn't always bad, but it sure isn't always honorable, so we have to be very careful about putting those things in our minds.
... right! more often than we like to admit it, there is no gray area and it can be narrowed down to right and wrong. am i making sure that i'm doing the right thing in my relationships? in my work? (personally, it's right for me to get things done around my house, and it's wrong for me to spend too much time on the computer)
... lovely! another word for pleasant. fill your thoughts with things that will make you pleasant to be around. if it makes you a crab after thinking about _______ for a while, well, maybe you don't need to be thinking about it!
... of good repute! simply, something known for being good (think, good reputation). so if it isn't thought of as a good/moral thing by others, then why are you using so much brain power on it?
i love how all of these focus on not being "ok" but on being absolutely, totally and completely all the way good!
why should we be happy to live a life that's... "mhe". that's oh, ho, hum. we need to be working to live a life that is full of effort to glorify God more today than we did yesterday. to make sure that this season of our life is more full of praise to the Lord than the last.
be picky about your thought life! be filling your mind with so many wonderful blessed things of God that there just isn't time for evil or even for too much "neutral".
remember that everything you put in that pretty little head of yours is going to rattle around for a while and find a way back out, whether through your words or actions. (i shared it last month, but it's just so true, i have to share it again.)
Proverbs 4:23 "Watch over your heart (or mind) with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life."
so guard that pretty little head of yours!
p.s. have any encouraging thoughts to share? what's something lovely you think about that makes you pleasant to be around? what's rattling around between your ears? ;)