For The Kingdom: Joy-Filled Living In Difficult Days | Day 62

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:7-9

“What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient…highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain, it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed – fully understood – that sticks; right in there somewhere.” “An idea is like a virus. Resilient. Highly contagious. And even the smallest seed of an idea can grow. It can grow to define or destroy you.” – Dom Cobb, INCEPTION

In the fantastical mental thriller INCEPTION starring Leonard DiCaprio, his character, Dom Cobb has mastered the art of entering into a person’s dream state and either implanting or extracting a thought or an idea that is buried deeply in a person’s unconscious mind.  It creates a thrilling movie premise, but an even more interesting insight into the intricacies and influences our thoughts have on our entire lives.

If you have ever downloaded a virus or malware onto your computer, you know how infuriating and potentially damaging that can be.  Often times, you may begin receiving pop up ads telling you to purchase a certain program which will help you get rid of a virus you didn’t know you had! The people that created the virus are often ones that were selling the so-called cure!  After hours of research and frustration, you finally figure out how to delete all of the files hidden throughout your computer that were spreading the virus and ruining your computer to begin with!  Two important take-a-ways: 1.  Be careful what you download from the internet. 2.  Have a good firewall.

Do you have “predetermined security rules” for your incoming and outgoing thought traffic? If not, your mind is vulnerable to all kinds of malware and viruses!  In this passage, Paul gives us a spiritual firewall that will guard our hearts and minds from virus’, Trojan horses and malware.  

In Philippians 4:8, God gives provides a P4:8 Firewall to help us focus our thoughts on those things that will be inspirational and transformational not damaging and scarring.  The P4:8 Firewall give us peace, not problems.  Notice that God does not specifically tell us what we can or cannot think.  He never specifies whether we should ever think about sports, movies, tv shows or politics, instead, he leaves it open-ended, using the word “whatever.”   “Whatever” is a catch all word, transcending culture, language, generation and social status, completely able to be contextualized by each of us.  Do not think of this as a legalistic rule, but rather a prescriptive solution.  We are free to think about “whatever,” makes it through the P4:8 Firewall.  Both in your thoughts, and in the source of input that shape your thoughts (entertainment, social media, news, friends and other influences) you should continually be evaluating what you allow into your mind with the following- 

P4:8 Firewall Questions:

1. Is this True?  We know Jesus is the truth and His truth sets us free.  We should not focus our thoughts on false ideas or lies that we believe about our self or others.  The Word of God is our standard for truth. Be discerning to evaluate every thought and idea and determine if it holds up against God’s truth.

2. Is this Honorable?  Our thoughts should bring honor to God, our self and others.  We should not focus our thoughts on things that would bring us or God shame.  

3. Is this Just?  Our thoughts should be ethical and equitable, not conniving or seeking to take advantage of others. An unjust thought is driven by pride, greed and prejudice and has no place in a believer’s mind.

4. Is this Pure?  Our thoughts should be virtuous and clean thoughts, not obscene or dirty. While this includes lust, pornography and sexually impure thoughts, it also includes any thought tainted by cultural impurities.

5. Is this Lovely?  A lovely thought is captivating and admirable, not repulsive and hideous.  A lovely thing is deserving to be put on display, not covered or hidden in shame.

6. Is this Commendable? If you were to put your thoughts down on paper and hand them to a spiritual mentor or Pastor, would that person commend you for thinking about those things?

7. Is this Excellent? Some thoughts are fairly innocuous, neither harmful nor particularly meaningful.  We are instructed not to dwell on trivial, superficial and foolish thoughts, dedicating our intellect and brain power to more excellent pursuits.

8. Is this Worthy of Praise? Do your thoughts reflect a heart of worship and praise for God?  Are your thoughts praiseworthy?  We are invited to worship God with our thought life.

Again, this is not a legalistic set of rules, but a life-giving practice that will only strengthen your own mental health and grow you in grace and godliness. When we fall short, which we will do often, we must remember to bring our sinful thoughts to God in repentance. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Not only should we avoid the unhealthy source which produce unpleasing thoughts, but we should also feed our minds on the things which are pleasing to God.  Scripture reading, worship music, Biblical preaching and meaningful conversations with other believers are each important to keeping our minds filled with worthy thoughts.  This is one reason why we pray constantly, so that our minds are fully focused on God and His will for our lives.  What if every day you prayed the words of this familiar hymn?

“You are my best thought, by day or by night.” 

Be Thou My Vision
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