“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” (Philippians 4:8-9 ESV).
British author James Allen wrote, “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” And in his book Born To Win, Zig Ziglar wrote, “Your thinking drives your choices. Choices determine the action you take, and action produces the results of your life. You can only think in ways consistent with the information you have in mind. You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”
There’s really no new revelation in these quotes; we’ve been told for millennia that the way we think has an impact on how we live our lives. Self-help gurus pretty much all agree regarding the power of thought.
Paul gave us direction in this matter, as seen in our main text; but rather than identifying a few specific things meant to build our confidence and self-reliance, he broadened the focus.
We are to “think about these things”: everything that is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worth of praise. These are among the very things of scripture, and the very things that we see modeled in Jesus, the disciples, and Paul.
But Paul made certain to point out that thinking isn’t enough. We cannot live in ivory towers, isolated from our brothers and sisters in Christ; nor can we keep ourselves out of the world. For how can we reach the lost if we don’t go and find them where they are?
He tells us how to think, but he also tells us to put into practice those things about which we think. “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things.” I really like that he chose the word practice here. It implies that the lifestyle of Christ doesn’t come naturally–our propensity to sin teaches us this truth plainly.
It is through practice that we become good at something, as any professional athlete or musician would tell you. Becoming a Christian doesn’t make us experts on thought or behavior; it does, however, put us on the team or stage. If we are not good at resisting sin in our thoughts and actions, we must practice until we are!
The greatest battles are fought on the smallest of battlefields, the space between our ears. When we take that space, the thinking becomes doing and the doing becomes being.
It should go without saying (but I’ll say it anyway!), we are not saved by our works, but our works reveal our salvation.
Blessings on your day!
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