And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9
Thoughts. Our thoughts become our voice, and often our patterns of behavior. What we think about ourself and even others, can be outwardly reflected in the way we respond with or without love.
The verses above are often referenced at times as a prescription for anxiety, as they can be; they are also a prescription for the stance we must take against those things that we may encounter or consume that are not trustworthy, honorable or worthy of praise.
Garbage in, garbage out.
First, let’s talk about our thoughts. Let’s simplify this as it applies to Paul’s instructions and our character. Our thoughts and perspectives about particular situations, especially as they apply to others. Because this verse can certainly apply here. When we encounter a person with whom we share a difference of opinion, or even someone with whom we don’t connect, don’t understand, or maybe we even have some sort of conflict with them personally, or with something they may be doing-we do a couple things. We form thoughts and opinions about their character, their actions, and their intentions. We often believe based on our thoughts, our own perspectives, our own version of events that said person may be driven by malice. May be aloof. Not like us. We have our own thoughts about their intended motives because we don’t truly support their mission. For whatever reason we have decided they should not be successful, and we look for anything but admirable qualities to prove it. And if you look for those qualities you will find them, even in the smallest, most ridiculous of things.
What would happen if we did what Paul asked us to do? If we changed those negative, fault-seeking thoughts and began to look for good? Intentionally? In people? And in situations that made us feel frustration? What if we looked for the truth about a person instead of believing whatever so and so told us about them? If we focused on the admirable accomplishments of others, and applauding them instead of sitting in our envy and jealousy tearing down those who dare to brave and step out into boldness for God? What if we talked more about things that were worthy of praise, and less about things that tear others down? Would our thoughts be fixed on Christ, and less on the flaws of others?
Next, Paul is not only speaking of our speech or the way we see people here-he tells us to put what he says into practice. Remember, I mentioned garbage in, garbage out. So that means whatever you take in, your output will be the same. So if you take in good, your actions will be good. If you practice kindness, your actions will be kind; and if you practice deception, then your actions will be the same-deceitful.
If we are filling our minds with junk. If we are consistently surrounding by the influences of evil desires, and things that turn us away from a pure and holy God, eventually our actions will begin to look like the thing that is filling our minds. This is why Paul warned us where to fix our thoughts-on what honors Him. Those things that are going to reflect Christ within you and keep you focused on Him.
The One that provides peace and can be a light to someone who will see it shining in you.