Thinking Rightly

Thinking Rightly.

Phil 4:8-9

“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

 

            What we think is what we become.  To transform our lives, we need to change what we think about and focus on.  In this passage, Paul reminds us to shift the focus of our thoughts to change our behavior and actions.  In keeping with the spirit of exhortation, Paul again gives us two commands.  As are the commands in the previous verses, the focus is not upon a momentary act but a continuous response that we are to ingrain within our lives.  The first command is the appeal to think about the right things.  This is more than just a momentary thought; but to give careful thought, to ponder and let one’s mind dwell on something.  It speaks of an ongoing focus of our mind.   

Where does our mind gravitate to when we have nothing to think about?  When we have nothing demanding our attention, what requires our consideration?  What are the things on the “backburners of the mind?” When we face a significant trial or life-changing problem, it begins to control our thoughts.  When we wake up at night, our minds start working as we contemplate the issue.  Instead of being captured by the thoughts of the day's problems, Paul challenges us to reorient our minds so that when we shift into mental neutrality, our minds are captured by the truths and thoughts of God. The list he gives us all points us to a life focused upon God, His activity, and His word.  We are to train our minds to dwell upon God.  

            The world is constantly demanding our attention.  Everywhere we turn, it is screaming for consideration so that it drives any thought of God out of our minds.  When we are driving in the car, the problems of our job infiltrate and dominate our thoughts.  When we are at home, the worries of the budget and the projects of the day drown out any other thoughts.  Silence is a void that our problems demand to fill.  Paul challenges us to do what is perhaps the most difficult discipline of the Christian life.  He challenges us to take our thoughts captive and bring them under the control of God so that in the silence of our minds, we naturally turn to thinking about God (2 Cor. 10:5). When God and His character and virtues become the dominant focus of our thoughts, our whole perspective of life is changed.  The demands of our daily life become unimportant compared to the pursuit of His will.  The seemingly impossible problems become insignificant compared to the power of His infinite nature.  The fears and anxieties that disrupt our peace become meaningless in the light of God’s promises and assurances.

            This brings us to the question: How do we change our thinking?  The answer lies in verse 9.  We reorient the focus of our thoughts by dwelling upon the words of Scripture.  In the second command, Paul commands us to practice what he has written.  In other words, we are to think about and live by the words of Scripture. When we focus on knowing God through His word and living by His word, our thoughts are transformed, and we begin to experience the peace and joy of God.  When He dominates our thoughts, everything else comes into perspective.  Paul affirms this in Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” To think rightly, we need to learn to think about God. If our thoughts are upon Him, we gain a proper perspective of life. 

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