Christianity 201

December 14, 2020

Things to Think About

Wrapping up his letter to the Philippians, Paul ends with a verse that will be familiar to most of you:

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (4:8 NLT)

Years ago, when attending a large youth event, a speaker talked about making his mind a gatekeeper. He envisioned animals passing through an “L”-shaped gate that would swing allowing some things to go one direction and others to go the other. He compared this to allowing certain thoughts to come into our minds as opposed to quickly and simply tossing others out.

I thought at the time he was referring to a particular scripture reference, but when I tried to find it I couldn’t, although the Bible has a lot to say about gatekeepers.

Frequently, the subject of our “thought life” has appeared at C201’s sister blog, Thinking Out Loud. In April of this year, with some extra time on my hands, I summarized the best elements of these into a single article.  See below for two excerpts.

For our verse today, I compared translations. Some of the Bibles listed the “things” to think about in a different order, and I took the liberty of arranging them so they would line up:

The Amplified Bible, as you might expect, takes this one step further and suggests where those “things” to think about might be defined:

Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].

I wanted to include some very practical ways we can start thinking about responding to this issue. Here’s how the Thinking Out Loud article began:

Media to fill your home:

  • Bible teaching
  • Christian books
  • Christian movies
  • Christian music
  • Hearing God’s voice

This list may remind you of this verse:

Phillips – Col. 3: 16-17 Let Christ’s teaching live in your hearts, making you rich in the true wisdom. Teach and help one another along the right road with your psalms and hymns and Christian songs, singing God’s praises with joyful hearts.

Dealing with online addiction – the issues involved:

  • Self Control
  • Mind, Thoughts and Heart
  • Shifting Values
  • The Stewardship of Our Time
  • Misdirected Worship

It also included links to the individual articles, but here’s one in more detail:

Recipe for a healthy media diet:

  • True, Not False:”Whatever things are true”
  • Noble, Not Base: “Whatever things are noble”
  • Right, Not Wrong: “Whatever things are just”
  • Purity, Not Filth: “Whatever things are pure”
  • Beautiful, Not Ugly: “Whatever things are lovely”
  • Praise, Not Complaint: “Whatever things are of good report

…Imagine me having written all this only to discover I’ve done this before with the exact same title and a very similar Bible translation chart. Well, it’s true. I did this in June, 2014. At that time I made a few personal observations:

  1. Holiness does not get easier as you get older. Don’t believe the myth that as you age, you will automatically take on the character of the elder saints at your local church. To be very blunt, it can go either way. Age can ‘mellow’ your spiritual character, or it can ‘harden’ that character.
  2. Thinking on “these things” is a matter of effort. Even working in a ministry environment, I find that my thoughts can go off the rails several times a day or even several times an hour. It takes constant focus.
  3. Past thought life failures should not be a barometer of what to expect in the future. Each moment is a created period of accountability. You have to keep hitting the ‘reset’ button.
  4. Our lives simply run better when our thoughts are focused on the good and beautiful. We were not designed to have our mind crowded by things that are impure or dishonorable.

 

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