Philippians is a short letter, but it is filled with powerful lessons for followers of Jesus.
One lesson considers our thought lives.
Philippians 4.8-9 – 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.
As for the things that you have learned and received and heard and noticed in me, do them, and the God of peace will be with you.
I have two excellent books in my library that address the need to follow Paul’s directions in Philippians. Today’s article contains notes I have taken from the books and a few short explanations where needed.
Thoughts and the Quality of Life
Our life depends on the kind of thoughts we nurture. Everything, both good and evil, comes from our thoughts.
We can become very good or very evil, depending on the kind of thoughts and desires we breed.
Just as the gardener who does not weed his garden chokes their vegetables, so the mind that does not purify its thoughts is wasting its efforts.
Thoughts – Like the Rudder of a Ship
The mind is the dominant leader or ruler of the personality.
The mind is like the rudder of a ship that directs the kingdom of a person. The wise mind is God-controlled and filled with the Holy Spirit.
Our thought life is subject to disruption by the desires imposed by powerful passions.
Spiritual guides counsel their followers to begin their day with thoughts of God and to maintain that connection throughout the day.
The passions of our flesh (life that is lived separately from God) attack our good thoughts like weeds in a garden.
The best course of action for positive thoughts is to do as my friend and fellow YouTube presenter recommends: “Keep a conversation with God going throughout the day.”
The Body – A Poor Master
The wise mind makes the passions its servants. The body is a good servant, but a poor master.
The body is ruled by two laws, that of the flesh (life apart from God) and that of the Spirit through the mind.
James made this observation, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder” (James 2.19).
The demons believe in God, but their minds are corrupted by rebellion against God.
We believe in God but can have corrupted passions when we allow our thoughts to be ruled by the passions of the flesh.
Jesus revealed the pathway to freedom. “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8.31-32).
When we fill our minds with the word of God and his truth, we will be on the pathway toward freedom from the opposing passions of the flesh.
Spiritual counselors note the essential connection between what we think and our behavior.
The kingdom of God will not make its abode in the heart of a person who has no obedience, for such a person always wants his will – rather than God’s – to be done. In the kingdom of God, there is no possibility of a kingdom within a kingdom.
The Influence of Our Thought Life
The Lord has taken all of our sufferings and cares upon himself, and he has said that he will provide for all our needs. Yet, we hold on to our cares so tightly that we create unrest in our hearts and minds and in everyone around us.
We forget that God is everywhere and that any joy we do and any task we perform is his. We think that the job we are doing is for someone else and we often perform our tasks unwillingly.
The role of Christians in the world is to filter the atmosphere on earth and expand the atmosphere of the kingdom of God.
People will be attracted by the peace and warmth in us; they will want to be near us, and the atmosphere of heaven will gradually pass on to them.
We need to be convinced of the truth that our thought life will affect other people around us.
The continual keeping company with God through prayer and his word will allow us to reflect his love and grace in the world.
How we respond to issues that produce worry or irritation will determine our influence in the world.
As our thoughts are filled with God’s word and truth, we will better reflect God’s rule on earth.
The Upward Movement Toward God
The goal for the mind is a constant upward movement toward God.
We long after God in our hearts but oppose him in our thoughts. Our thoughts, moods, and desires set a path for our life.
If our thoughts are quiet, peaceful, and full of love, kindness, and purity, then we have peace, for peaceful thoughts make possible the existence of inner peace. However, if we breed negative thoughts, then our inner peace is shattered.
Make yourself a rule always to be with the Lord and do not let your thoughts wander. Delight to converse with the Lord.
I hope these ideas will inspire you as much as they inspire me to pay greater attention to our thought lives.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube. It can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. You will appreciate Rudy’s insights.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.