“Finally, brothers, 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.” (NIV)
I love this verse. Yes, it’s challenging and yes, I get it wrong thousands of times a day (because apparently, we have about 6000 thoughts a day according to a recent study carried out by psychologists at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada). But, just reading those words – true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy – makes my heart sing. Are those not words we want to live by, live with?
As children of the living God, they resonate with our hearts, because they describe our God and they describe His creation. With spring just over in Europe and summer heating our European earth, we are surrounded by beautiful flowers, they are so lovely. Nature has turned green and lush, the wind blows through the leaf-filled branches and plays its natural tune and the birds sing along to it. This is praiseworthy. The purity of a new born baby, the joy of contemplating an intricately and skilfully painted piece of art, the relief when justice is done – all these thoughts are excellent and praiseworthy.
Today, our media likes to shock, to scare, to scandalise, to take us into an uncomfortable place in order to grab our attention. We need to guard our hearts (v7) from this information. We can use common sense to distinguish what we should be wary of, in spiritual realms, the Holy Spirit can help us discern, and then we should move on. A mindset coach recently said to me that we could visit feelings or thoughts that cause a negative reaction, but we don’t want to live there.
As Christians we want to live in truth, righteousness and purity. Our first step is an act of will, the instruction in this verse to turn our mind towards things that reflect these values. Holding our mind captive to good thoughts, rather than bad, to turning away from the dark and into the light – this is a lifetime’s work and means looking at how we spend our time, what we watch online or on TV, what we read, who we listen to and so on. Who’s up for the challenge? Habits start with a lot of repetition, so let’s ditch the ones that aren’t in line with our faith and trust God to help us develop those that draw us closer to Him.
Prayer of Response
Father God, help us live in the peace you give to us freely in order to guard our hearts from thoughts that take us out of Your peace. Forgive us and help us to lay at Your feet the bad habits that come from our thought process. Renew our minds by Your spirit and be our constant guide as we develop a healthy mind, focused on what is pure, true, right, lovely and praiseworthy.
Questions to Ponder
- Do I guard my heart from thoughts that harm?
- When I start to spiral into negative thoughts, do I remember to turn to Jesus to ask for His help?
- Are there some thoughts that have become bad habits and that I need to lay at Jesus’ feet?
—Submitted by Lis Ho
Lis currently lives in Lyon, France with her son and is serving on the LSM Lyon team preparing to launch Session 1 on November 6th, 2021.