If you are a follower of Christ, put your phone down some time. Turn off the television and laptop. Close this blog. Go outside. Look up. That big blue thing is called the sky. You might not have noticed it in a while. It declares the glory of the God who created it. The same God who created all things and upholds all things every moment by the word of His power has given us a written revelation. Have you looked at it recently? It tells us about that which is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable. It tells us about the things we are to think about. It tells us about our God who so loved us that He gave His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ who was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities.
What do you think about? I suppose most of us could say, “I think about a lot of things.” That’s true, but what characterizes most of your thinking? If you are like the majority of people, you probably spend a good amount of time thinking about the immediate necessities of life. You think about your family, your job, your church, what’s for dinner tonight. If you are a parent, you think about your children. If you are a student, you think about assignments that need to be completed and what you are hoping to do after graduation. And so on. None of these are bad in and of themselves, unless we grow anxious and think in a worrying and anxious manner (Matt. 6:25–34).
These are things we think about regularly because they are part of our every day lives, but what else do we think about as a result of what we deliberately choose to read about and talk about? What do we think about when the first thing we do every day is read about every bad and evil thing that has happened over the last 24 hours in every part of the world? What do we think about when we listen to music that exalts ugliness, with lyrics that glorify pride, and envy, and lust? What do we think about when we watch television shows, movies, and videos depicting blasphemy, dehumanizing violence, and depravity of every kind?
If you read every day about every bad and evil thing that has happened over the last 24 hours in every part of the world, you shouldn’t be surprised if you are constantly dwelling on those things and struggling with depression and anxiety. If you listen to songs with sexually explicit lyrics and watch movies, television shows, and videos with sexually explicit images, you shouldn’t be surprised if you are constantly dwelling on those things and struggling with lust. If you watch movies and videos that depict dehumanizing violence, don’t be surprised if you struggle with outbursts of anger and murderous thoughts (Matt. 5:21–22). If you choose to drink from a sewer rather than from a clear spring, don’t be surprised if you get sick.
We are called to be putting to death the deeds of the flesh (Rom. 8:13), not fertilizing them with the manure produced by those who hate our Lord. We are not to be conformed to this world but instead to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2). How do we renew our minds? By thinking about what God commanded us to think about. Consider what Paul wrote to the Philippian church: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:8–9). The Word of God here gives us instructions regarding things to think about and things to practice.
Think About This
Whatever is true. We are to think about those things that are true. God is true (John 3:33; 7:28). God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). Jesus is the truth (John 14:6). Our culture is filled with liars and their lies. Lying lips are an abomination. How much time and energy do we waste thinking about lies as opposed to thinking about God and His Word?
Whatever is honorable. Those of us in the West live in a culture that has forgotten the meaning of honor and respect. Our culture does not even know what is honorable and is therefore incapable of thinking about it. As Christians, we are called to think about whatever is honorable and worthy of respect. In other words, we are to think about that which is good. We are not only to think about it, however. We are also to do that which is honorable (Rom. 12:17). One such honorable thing is giving honor to whom honor is owed (Rom. 13:7). We are to honor God (1 Sam. 2:30; Isa. 8:13), our parents (Exod. 20:12) and the elderly (Lev. 19:32).
Whatever is just. That which is just is that which is righteous. We are to think about these things, to think about that which is righteous. Proverbs contrasts the just with the deceitful, saying: “The thoughts of the righteous are just; the counsels of the wicked are deceitful” (Prov. 12:5). That which is just, therefore, is that which is truthful. We are to think about God and His Word.
Whatever is pure. That which is pure is that which is uncontaminated. Pure metals have no dross. Thus, “The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6). God’s commandments are pure (Psalm 19:8). God’s Word and His commandments are pure because God Himself is pure (Psalm 18:26).
Whatever is lovely. Christians are called not only to think about things that are true and good, but also things that are lovely, things that are beautiful. Scripture uses the word “lovely” to describe that which is beautiful (e.g., Song of Solomon 6:4). This too is in stark contrast to our culture, which glorifies ugliness. As Christians, we are to think about that which is beautiful, and since beauty is inter-related to truth and goodness, it encompasses both. The ultimate beauty is God who is goodness and truth. Our Lord is glorious and beautiful (Psalm 27:4).