“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
When I think about only having good thoughts, it makes me wonder how that is possible. I picture myself sitting there alone in a room. I only have my Bible. There are no fighting children, TV that is putting scary ideas in my head, or laundry to fold. It is just me and God. And let me tell you time like that is more scarce than a unicorn around here. Yet I must take my thoughts captive. So, here are some thoughts on how to accomplish this in an imperfect world.
Step back from things that desensitize us. Let me be clear-I am not telling you to give up TV and electronic devices. However, we need to be careful what we expose ourselves to. When we look at things like gratuitous violence or bad language, they can easily convince us that these things are normal. We start to talk and act like what we see or condone it when others do. There are also lots of news articles that may not be the most helpful. A little bit can really go a long way. Realizing what affects each of us and pulling away from it can keep our minds clean. “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” James 4:4
Step toward forgiveness. Holding onto grudges is a tiring act and doesn’t do anyone any good. When we keep a tight grasp on our hurt, we quickly become bitter and our thoughts turn away from God. Focusing on being kind to everyone and letting go of hurt is a great way to bring in the right kind of thoughts. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
Step back from worry. Worry can take hold of our thoughts in the blink of an eye. One minute something might happen in the future and the next thing we know we have convinced ourselves it is inevitable. Thoughts have us spinning and scared and nothing has even happened. Nothing good comes from this mindset. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34
Step toward the right friends and be the right friend. Our friends have so much influence on us and we don’t realize it. We want to please them and that can lead to actions we wouldn’t normally take. On the other hand, having friends who will encourage us and push us to be our best is truly a gift from God. Maybe we can think about getting closer to the people we want to be more like. “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
Step back from wasting time. Hobbies are great and we all need a release from the stress of life. There is nothing wrong with having some free time. But sometimes, free time leads to an overabundance of thoughts. It can lead to jealousy, greed, and discontentment. It can corrupt the seeds of good thoughts you have just planted. Be careful with time. “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say–but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’–but not everything is constructive.” 1 Corinthians 10:23
Step toward reading the Bible. God gave us His Word and wants us to soak it up. When we do, we also soak up Him and His ways. And His ways are perfect. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
How do YOU keep your thoughts lovely?
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