Tuesday May 21 2024

What are you thinking?


Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Phil 4:8

The apostle Paul wants to guide us in our thinking. Why? Because he knows that our thoughts matter. A lot. What we are thinking about affects our relationships, it determines our choices, and it guides us through life. I once read that a typical emotion or feeling lasts about 90 seconds. We get cut off by someone on the road and we get mad. A dog comes running at us barking and bearing his teeth and we get scared. That kind of thing. That rage, that fear, lasts about 90 seconds. And then our thoughts determine what happens next. Are we going to tailgate that person, go full “road rage”? Or are we going to slow it down a little, put a good song on the radio, and ‘breath’? It’s up to us.

And Paul knew that, so he encourages us to decide carefully what to think about. “Think about these things,” he writes. Not those things. When we think about the right things, we do the right things. Simple as that.

But who decides what we think about? We can all decide for ourselves what to think about any particular issue. But, on the other hand, politicians and news personalities do seem to be able to tell us what to think about.

So, what should we think about? Good question! And the apostle Paul gives us some specific suggestions in this verse.


Whatever is True

Think about the truth we find in God’s Word, the truth that God loves us, and loves every created being; that God calls us to love our neighbor, and love our enemy; and that the greatest truths we can learn in this world, we learn from God.  


Whatever is Honourable

And next, Paul writes, think about “whatever is honorable.” Whatever is noble, whatever is lofty, whatever is worthy of respect, think about this”.

Have you noticed how the people who most exemplify this rarely make the news? Dishonor makes the news much more often. You may know some people in your life who you consider honorable. Talk to them, learn from them, think about them. You’ll get enough on the dishonorable without looking, so look for those who are worthy of respect, emulate them, and consider how you might become that person for someone else.


Whatever Is Pleasing (Lovely)

And then, Paul writes, think about whatever is pleasing, whatever is lovely. Not just lovely and pleasing to us, but lovely and pleasing to God. In another of Paul’s letters, to the Ephesians, Paul writes: “Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10). We all know, in a general way, what is pleasing to the Lord, but try to be specific, I think Paul means. Try to figure out what is pleasing to the Lord. Only you can answer that, because no one else can live your life. Live it as though every moment matters, and every moment is a chance to please the Lord.

Extract – “My Pastoral Ponderings