This is the fourth post in the “Battle for Your Mind” summarized series. Click here to view the previous post.
MASTERING YOUR MIND
Every once in a while I like to go to a buffet. Actually, I would like to go quite often, but my common sense won’t let me (or maybe it’s my wife).
When I walk into the restaurant I feel like I’m in heaven. As soon as I enter the door, a wave of euphoria washes over me. I can already taste the mashed potatoes, I can see the grease dripping off the fried chicken, and the desserts beckon me by name.
Then there’s the salad bar. Who put that there? Why allow perfectly good space to be taken up by lettuce and tomatoes? Really, I don’t mind having the salad bar there. It’s not like I have something against salad. My problem is that its presence sets off a battle within my conscience. I like a good salad bar, but I know I only have so much room. There is too much other good stuff to be devoured.
When I allow wisdom to rule my life, I take a plate of salad. I know that the more I eat of the healthy stuff, the less I eat of the unhealthy food.
That is exactly how we win the battle for our minds. In the previous section we saw the problem—that our fleshly desires have become corrupted. We also saw that there is hope—God can make us new. However, we have to help out with the process. In a world that constantly bombards us with temptation, how do we allow in only what is good for us?
The key is the lesson we learned at the salad bar. If we fill our minds with good things, we won’t have room for the bad.
How do you do this? You filter out what you don’t want in it. Just like you may use a water filter in your house to strain out impurities, you need to set some kind of filter on your mind.
A pretty clear description of this filter is given to us in Philippians 4:8.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
Notice that there is no command about what not to think about, only instructions for what to think about. Remember, fill your mind with the good and you won’t have to worry about the bad!
Let’s look at each of these “positive” thoughts.
#1. Things that are true
Lies spread like wildfire. Why? Because they are interesting. Sometimes the truth is not quite as fun as fiction.
In this age of the Internet, false information gets spread around all the time. Most people don’t even attempt to verify it, but just send it along. Maybe you have seen the famous quote that has circulated in cyberspace:
“Never believe anything you read on the Internet” – Abraham Lincoln
Gossip and rumors are often not true, and they poison your mind toward people. Therefore, find out what is true and think on it!
#2. Things that are honorable
In the KJV, the word is “honest,” but the Greek word means “honorable” or “venerable.” The NKJV and NIV translate it as “noble.”
This is different than just being true. It refers to filling our mind with thoughts that are respectable or honorable.
What you are thinking about – is it honorable? Would you like to have all your thoughts this week broadcast on the screen this Sunday for the whole congregation to see?
#3. Things that are righteous
Things that are righteous (just) are those that are in accordance with the laws of God.
Are the things in your mind acceptable to God? If not, why are you wasting your time thinking about them?
Imagine walking into the house and there on the counter you spy a cooling rack loaded with warm, soft cookies. You can see the steam rising off them and dissipating into the air. You are literally breathing in calories. The heavens open up and music begins to play. Then it is all suddenly shattered by a sharp, “Don’t even think about it!” Too bad your wife made them for a ladies’ night out. You better not think about the cookies, because they are off limits.
The more you think about them, the worse the temptation will be. The cookies are “unrighteous.” They are off limits, so find something acceptable to think about (like the bag of carrots in the refrigerator).
#4. Things that are pure
I don’t really have to describe the meaning of pure. We may want to argue with each other over purity when it comes to what we should and shouldn’t think about, but pure means pure.
Next time your kid reaches over and takes a swig of your drink and you look in there and see floaties, what will you do? You will probably dump it out and refill it. Who wants to chew on the remains of whatever it was that was in your child’s mouth?
We understand that we don’t want filthiness in our mouth. When my youngest son Braden was barely big enough to walk, he came out carrying the toilet wand, chewing on the “business end.” Did I immediately yank it away from him because I am a mean ol’ legalistic ogre who doesn’t allow anyone to have any fun? No-it could hurt him. And it’s nasty!
Something that is impure is something that can make you dirty. It can put germs in you that can lead to sickness.
#5. Things that are lovely
To be lovely is to be acceptable or pleasing. If I were to ask you to close your eyes and imagine something lovely, what picture would you have in your mind? Maybe a beautiful rose bush bursting with color. Maybe you will envision a picnic on a warm day in the grass next to a peaceful river. Maybe it would be an image of your wife.
You get the idea that something that is lovely is something that not many people would argue about being distasteful.
#6. Things that are of good report
The word translated as “of good report” is the Greek word euphemos), which refers to something that sounds good.
To help illustrate what it means, it would be helpful to know that from it we get our word euphemism, which is a nicer-sounding word in place of something not so nice. For example, instead of saying that a person “died,” we say they “passed away.” It just sounds so much better.
In this verse, the word could also be translated as “commendable” (ESV) or “admirable” (NIV).
What you think about influences you. Are your thoughts commendable or admirable?
#7. Things that are virtuous
“Virtue” describes goodness or excellence. Again, you cannot block every thought from entering your mind. But the ones that you let hang around—are they shameful, or would you be proud for others to know about them?
#8. Things that are praiseworthy
Another word that could be used here is “commendation.” Are the things that you allow to come into your mind be worthy of commendation or condemnation?
If other people knew about it, would they commend you or rebuke you?
Notice the last part of the verse. “Think on these things.” This is imperative. It is a command.
Click here for the next section, “The Battle for Your Fear – How to Conquer Fear, Part I”