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. – Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
It is important for all of us to think about what we think about. Especially for those of us who fight against anxiety and depression, it is vital that we learn to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Our think both reflects and strengthens what we believe.
Fortunate, our loving Father God, through the apostle Paul, has given us a guide to help us when we’re entertaining wrong thoughts and ideas and notions. Whenever you catch yourself being overly critical (of yourself and/or others), feeling low about your circumstances, facing fear or anxiety, worried, guilt-ridden over some sin you long ago (or even recently) sought God’s forgiveness for… before embracing some negative thought, weigh what your thinking against Philippians 4:8.
1. Is what I’m thinking true? How does it stand up to what a scripture says? Am I feeling convicted or condemned? If convicted, then ask for and thankfully accept the gift of forgiveness from God. If condemned, that comes not from the Lord but the enemy. Don’t accept it. You are forgiven! If you are worried, choose o trust God instead and meditate on God’s Word, not the fears that grow in your soul like a wad of gum in your mouth (the more you chew, the larger it grows, and the more your jaws hurt). Reject the false and embrace God’s truth.
2. Is it honorable? Do your thoughts bring honor to the Lord, or run counter to His Word? Are you trusting Him or worrying about what others might think, or do, or say? Are you anxious about circumstances? Even in the most troubling times, we can choose to stand strong in faith and glorify God with praise and thanksgiving, knowing that every storm passes and brings peace and quiet, and resting in the truth that God is with us always. Always. No matter what.
3. Is it just? Are your thoughts pure, devoid of anger or judgement or pride or sin of any sort? If your thoughts are driven by love, you’re good. Love covers a multitude of sins, and hurts, and sorrows.
4. Is it lovely? Do your thoughts bring you hope or joy in the Lord? Psalm 119:103 tell us God’s Words are sweeter than honey. Other places we see God’s Word bringing refreshment, healing, strength, truth, hope, joy… Can anything else be more beautiful? What’s more, this isn’t just wishful pie-in-the-sky dreaming. God’s Word is truth. If it is in Scripture, you can bank on it. Fill your heart with the beauty of His Word.
5. Is it commendable? Do your thoughts fill your soul with hope, or worrisome forebodings? In Christ we have hope, in all things, at all times. There is nothing too hard for God. We need to focus on Him, and not the storm raging around us. It is in God that we find hope and truth.
6. Is there any excellence in these thoughts? Do they lead you to praise the Lord for His goodness, His steadfast love, His might and power, His tender mercies, His forgiveness, His righteousness…? If not, ditch the thought. If so, stop, drop and praise Him!
The long and the short if it is this: we need to put our whole focus on God and His Word. We cannot look at circumstances or media or anything of this world and accept what we see as ultimate reality. None of us is God. Our perceptions are skewed. We can see the storms, but we are blinded by the rain and the winds. Only God can see the full 360 degree view. He knows what has happened, is happening and will happen. He has it all in His hands.
He has you in His loving hands.
So don’t worry. Don’t dread what you face tomorrow. Be anxious for nothing. Seek God first in all things and trust Him.
Sleep well dear friends. Rest in faith in the Lord. And know you are loved beyond measure.