What Were You Thinking?
But for me thoughts are the hardest to surrender to the Lord. The Bible offers help. Philippians 4:8 says, “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.”
I’d like to take each Biblical adjective and flesh it out. What exactly is Paul referring to with each word? A few examples.
True. I had a short conversation with my friend about her opinion of my novel. I mulled her words over until I fumed. I found myself exaggerating what she’d really said. And her words were merely constructive criticism. Don’t I always appreciate helpful advice from friends and readers? Fact check: remember what she actually meant and not what I’d conjured up in my mind.
Noble means polite, decent, gracious. Dwelling on my best friend’s faults isn’t noble.
Right means accurate. Yes, my friend had spoken accurately, not with criticism but with love.
Pure. Purity of thoughts. (I struggle with this one.) Every critical thought about others, every mean-spirited conclusion I make about another, every covetous desire. I ask God to help me not entertain them, but instead fill my mind with wholesome or clean thoughts.
Lovely. Dwell on the beauty of nature. Concentrate on what God sees in another and not their shortcomings.
Admirable. Could be the checkout girl at Wal-Mart isn’t very friendly, but she’s fast and efficient. Think about her commendable skills.
Excellent. One of my relatives is a gossip, but her home is always organized and clean. Dwell on her ability to keep house.
Praiseworthy. I can’t say anything good about some of our politicians, but God is in control. Center on the Lord’s goodness.
My mind is a wild horse at times. But if I rein in the unruly thoughts and take Philippians 4: 8 to heart, I can’t help but improve on my thought processes.