1. Why you are not free to think about just anything that enters your mind.
You are royalty. You have been raised with Christ. You know how to seek the things that are above. You are not satisfied with valuing the passing, vulgar, cheap things this world has to offer. You are destined for heaven. Not everything is worthy of your attention. Many things around us on earth are not worthy of our attention or affection. They simply do not have the worth or value that merits our consideration. They separate us from God. They distract us from pursuing the highest, best and most valuable.
Nowhere in Scripture is this thought more clearly expressed than in the verse of Scripture we will shortly examine. No other verse contains this most lofty and excellent standard by which we can decide what to think about. What we think about tells us who we are. What we think about says much about our character, our value system and our destination.
Other places in Scripture tell us what to do and what not to do, but this Scripture mounts up on wings of eagles and tells us what to think about. The Scripture I have in mind and to which I want to introduce you, the verse that I want to urge upon you as the standard by which you may evaluate all that you allow into the brain God has given you and the mind you want to keep holy and with which you want to love God with all of it is at the pinnacle of Christian instruction. The mind God has given you by which you are able to make choices, weighing subject materials and the basis of their worth is before us. When we first control what we think about, it is much much easier to do what we should do and not do what we should not do. The key to a righteous life, holy living, godly behavior and Christ centered existence—even here in a sin filled earth—is Philippians 4:6.
". . . 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."
2. Gateways to the Mind: Ears, Eyes, Imagination and Memories
Some of the cheaper, yet unworthy things that enter our minds come through our ears. Whether a song, poem, vulgar joke, dirty story or even something boastful about a material possession. If what we hear does not measure up to the standard of Philippians 4:6, then it is not worthy of our attention. It can destroy the purity and holiness we want to characterize our minds.
What we see with our eyes may be even more difficult to filter out and react quickly enough that we do not look at it long enough for it to fix itself in our minds. The Internet in the present generation presents a challenge to the Christian who wants to think about noble things that previous generations of Christians did not face. Pornography does not ask you for your permission to look at it; it demands your attention by the suddenness of its appearance. Only if we decide ahead of time that we will not look and that we will turn it off quickly, can we resist the lure of porn. Scant apparel, skin-tight clothing, not enough clothing, or no clothing at all can present our eyes with a huge test. If we ask Him the Holy Spirit can give us the help we need to instantaneously turn away from looking at things we don't want to see. If we begin to pray for the person who has appeared before us in a tempting way, this may help us become more proactive, by doing something that occupies our minds and crowds out the thing we did not want to see or think about. Because our minds do not have a "delete" button, controlling what we see becomes even more important.
Imagination is the human ability to conceive of something that is not actual, it only is projected or "imaged" into our heads; our brains take our knowledge and experience and places a present or future "image" of it in our consciousness. We therefore "think" that something could occur, a pleasure we may experience, an affair we think we would enjoy is in our minds and it leads us to try to fulfill the thing imagined. Many times it is not even possible to actualize what we imagined, but that does not stop the human mind from thinking about it. We must pray that God will help us bring every thought under control/into captivity (II Cor. 10:5); that we would have the mind of Christ(I Cor. 2:16); that we would be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2) from within.
Some of your memories are of events or experiences in your past. You should not have been a part of it, but you were, so you live with the consequence—you remember it. If you regret them and repent of them, that is one thing, but if you relish them or wish for them to occur again, that would not be good for a child of God. Memories of a beautiful time of worship, service, deeds of kindness or goodness can be a blessing to you. What do you want to think about? What kind of memories give your spiritual being joy and draw you closer to God?
3. Definitions of Eight things Worth Thinking About
True: 1) in accordance with fact or reality. 2) accurate or exact. Ἀληθής alēthḗs ("what can't be hidden") stresses undeniable reality when something is fully tested, that is say to it will ultimately be shown to be fact (authentic)
"Heaven is not worth trying to obtain" True or Not?
"God loves me unconditionally" True or Not?
Nobel: 1) belonging by rank, title, or birth to the aristocracy. 2) having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles. Semanos σεμνός, august, venerable, reverend; to be venerated for character, honorable: of persons (grave)
"How can I be helpful to that person over there in that difficult situation?" Nobel or Not?
"That dirty person deserves the bad things he is suffering." Nobel or Not?
Right: 1) morally good, justified, or acceptable 2) true or correct as a fact. δικαία (dikaia) right, righteous, just
"I am better than that person; I deserve good things more than he." Right or Wrong?
"I do not deserve the good God has given me, but I am grateful for it." Right or Wrong?
Pure: 1) not mixed or adulterated with any other substance or material 2) (of a sound) perfectly in tune and with a clear tone. ἁγνά (hagna) free from ceremonial defilement, holy, sacred (originally, in a condition prepared for worship), pure (either ethically, or ritually, ceremonially), chaste.
"I would like to make love with that woman." Pure or Evil?
"Lord please help that man over there. He needs your blessing." Pure or Evil
Lovely: 1) very beautiful or attractive 2) very pleasant or enjoyable; delightful. προσφιλής prosphilés: pleasing, agreeable, proper, worthy of personal affection; dearly prized, i.e. worth the effort to have and embrace (used only in Phil 4:8).
"I want to pray for God's will until I am certain I know what to do." Lovely or Ugly?
"I can never succeed at anything. I just as well quit." Lovely or Ugly?
Admirable: arousing or deserving respect and approval. Εὔφημα euphémos: well reported of, spoken in a kindly spirit, laudable, reputable.
"This is a difficult task, but with God's help I can do it." Admirable or Despicable?
"I wish that person would just get clear out of my life." Admirable or Despicable?
Excellent: extremely good; outstanding ἀρετὴ aretē goodness, a gracious act, virtue, uprightness areté: moral goodness, i.e. virtue
"You look worried. I want to help you. What can I do for you?" Excellent or Not Good?
"I hope that rascal gets fired. I am tired of doing his work after I do my work." Excellent or Not Good?
Praiseworthy: deserving approval and admiration ἔπαινος epainos commendation, praise, approval.
"I have been where you are. I know how to help you. Try it this way." Praiseworthy or Not?
"You dummy. That is not the way to do it. Can't you do anything right?" Praiseworthy or Not?
4. Think about what you are thinking about
From this point forward do not let your mind just wander around carelessly thinking about what occurs to it, but consider what you are considering, think about what you are thinking about, contemplate what you are contemplating. Be deliberate, intentional, purposeful and discerning.
Worthy of contemplation:
1. Why does God love even me?
2. The beauty of God. Love, patience, wisdom, plan, purpose, greatness, power, attention to detail
3. The joy of the Lord. Peace of God and peace with God. God's presence. Affirmation from friends.
4. How can I repay that person with kindness? How can I do to help her? How can I pray for him?
5. Lord, what is your plan for me in this situation? How can I honor you with my attitude?
6. How can I help that person not to be so angry?
7. How can I serve that person? It seems they need my help.
8. How can I let that person know that I love them?
Not worthy of contemplation:
1. They treated me unfairly. I want to get even. How can I get revenge?
2. I have many reasons to hate that person.
3. I wish I could be elected to be the leader in this group. I am better than others. I could do it better.
4. I cannot do anything right. I fail every time I try anything new. I have no value to anyone.
5. I am so much better than others that I am sick of waiting for them to understand my wisdom.
6. Why is that man so lazy?
7. Why is that woman no able to understand me?
8. What do I need to do to get more attention and more reward?