"Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable; if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things." Philippians 4:8 (NIV) I have a confession to make. I struggle in my thought life. A LOT! I find it very easy to get down on myself, get stressed out, focus on all I have to do and all I am not doing, and just bask in all my worries. My mom shared this verse with me recently and, even though I am very familiar with it in the "memorize-in-Christian-elementary-school" type way, I had never truly reflected on it until now.
Most of the time, I want a practical, clear cut way to apply the verses of the Bible to my life. When someone says "trust the Lord with it!" and dismisses my thoughts, as if all my worries will disappear, I often want to know a practical, step-by-step approach to trusting the Lord, as well as what it actually looks like strategically to trust God. How is that lived out on a day-to-day basis? How does that look to those around me? These verses in Philippians seemed to finally answer these questions for me this morning.
Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy...THINK ABOUT SUCH THINGS! It's pretty clean cut, simple, and practical if you ask me. We have a lot more say about where our minds travel than we think we do. After all, why would Paul (through the power of the Holy Spirit) instruct, even command us to think about such things? That implies that we have some say in the matter, doesn't it?
I want to claim this God-given strength that I have over my thought life! I want God to take all of my thoughts captive and make them obedient to Him (2 Corinthians 10:5). But how does this actually work? Practically? :)
I believe that we flat out have to ask God to give us the strength to glorify Him with our thoughts. We can't do this alone. Our human mind is one scary place...or at least mine is! I know I can't focus on what is true, noble, pure, right, etc without His power working in me. In those moments when life gets tough and we are so quick to be negative and get down on ourselves, a quick prayer of "Lord, I need You. Take control of my thoughts and help me focus on what is pure and right and praiseworthy!" could make a huge difference in the direction our hour, day, week, or even life goes.
I also believe that prayer is not a magic formula where you plug in all the right words and BOOM God comes through. If it worked like that, we would only rely on our abilities. I believe prayer is a state of mind where, all day every day, you are in tune with the Holy Spirit, realizing that God is God and you are not, and turning over all the day's activities, thoughts, and worries to the Lord. Acknowledging that only God can help us "think about such things" will help us rely on Him instead of our usual human reaction which is typically "just suck it up," "get over it," or "distract yourself." We need to get comfortable with being a little uncomfortable in the moment, take that discomfort to God, and let him turn our harmful, worrisome, and destructive thoughts into beautiful thoughts and words that He will use for His glory.
"...for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose." Philippians 2:13