I love the title of this post! It’s a famous saying of one of my favorite author/writer’s, Joyce Meyer, and while it sounds simple, it’s not always so easy!
What we think about is affected by everything we “take in”: television, radio, internet usage, conversations with others, your senses, your worries, what you read, and so on. If we are not careful, our feelings (like fear, sadness, anger, and even pride) can tempt us into thinking things that are not good for us because they are not pleasing to God. Sometimes our thoughts get so mucked up, they need to be filtered before we act on them, just like you’d need to run murky water through a filtration system before drinking it!
See if any of these murky, muddy thoughts sound at all familiar to you:
- • God doesn’t care about me.
• I keep messing up! I’ll never get it right!
• I’m worried that terrorists are going to strike the town where I/my loved ones live.
• I think my spouse is cheating on me.
• I can’t make it through today without a drink.
• I will never amount to anything/I am a failure.
• A beloved one is sick; I fear she will never get better.
• My kids are driving me crazy.
• I will never have enough money.
Any of these thoughts are enough to send you into a fit of panic, aren’t they? Thankfully, GOD has a better plan for our internal thinking process, sister (and brother!) friends! Don’t second guess yourself into a fit of anxiety! Instead, we can take our thoughts and pour them through the filter of Philippians 4:8 to get them get purified!
Hikers and campers know the dangers of drinking dirty water. Drinking such water can cause everything from mild stomach upset to chronic disease, and even death. I know someone who loves long hikes and outdoorsy, wilderness kinds of things. He told me once about a portable water filter thing he brings along with him on every camping trip he makes. It’s called the LifeStraw. It is designed to filter out the majority of “bad stuff” that could be in the water of streams, lakes, etc. that he’d have to drink if he ever ran out of clean water in his supply pack. This LifeStraw would save him from a lot of possibly unpleasant side effects of ingesting muddy, unfiltered water.
I liken Philippians 4:8 as a LifeStraw for our thoughts! We can pour our thoughts through this God-given “filter” before things get out of hand in order to keep our minds and spirits from the side effects of faulty thinking, and focus instead on things that please Him!
Check this out:
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. Philippians 4:8, NLT.
I don’t know about you, but THOSE are most definitely the kinds of things I want to be focusing on!! If you are feeling like me, watch how we can use this scripture piece as a kind of LifeStraw check list and see what comes out the other side!
We know from this scripture that it pleases God when we think about things that are:
- • True (reality based – as defined by God/Bible)
• Honorable (worthy of respect by God and those you personally respect)
• Right (lawful and just under the jurisdiction of where you live AND most importantly, by God)
• Pure (untainted, natural)
• Lovely (attractive – morally and ethically speaking!)
• Admirable (you can honestly recommend this idea/thought/concept to others as Godly)
• Excellent (it is an exceptionally virtuous thought or idea)
• Worthy of praise (God will be pleased with me for doing this/thinking this)
Therefore, when we sense we are taking our thoughts into dangerously muddy waters, we can measure it up against this filter, starting with TRUE, to see what it looks like on the other side of the filter!
For example, let’s take “God doesn’t care about me.” Starting at the top of the list, pour that thought right into the LifeStraw of “Is this thought TRUE?” I think you will find, in fact, that is NOT true! It is written ALL OVER the Bible that God cares lovingly and deeply for ALL of us. Keep going down the list. Is it honorable to think that? Nope. Is it lawful? No again. How about Pure, Lovely, Admirable, Excellent, worthy of Praise. No, ma’am! So, after seeing this thought on the flip side of the filtering process, we can confidently stop “feeling” like He doesn’t care and instead rely on Truth, and let it infuse our hearts and minds to create a thought that is holy and pleasing to God!
You can take any thought and run it through all 8 of the filters listed in Philippians 4:8. In fact, you might even find yourself needing to do that. Let’s take “I keep messing up! I’m afraid I’ll never get it right!” You know what? Maybe that IS true. Maybe you keep making the same mistake over and over again and you honestly fear that you will never get it right! So, perhaps if you think that thought looks the same once you filter it through the TRUE straw, move onto HONORABLE or even down to WORTHY of PRAISE. Try pouring that thought through one of those babies and what do you get? You will find that your thinking is flawed, once again! If you hit even ONE LifeStraw that changes the look of that thought you have, then you can bet your bottom dollar it isn’t something you should be thinking about!
Anytime we are thinking of something that doesn’t pass this LifeStraw filter test, we are disengaging our thoughts from God. In this scripture, Paul offers us amazing wisdom on practical, applicable ways to keep ourselves aligned with God and/or return to Him when we get off track. I pray that you and I will keep coming back to it time and time again so that we are consistently thinking of the things that “please the Spirit”!
Up Later this Week: Clutter, clutter, everywhere!