Written by Branda Polk
"Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise — dwell on these things," Philippians 4:8 (HCSB).
The Search for Significance
"A mind is a terrible thing to waste" was an advertisement tagline in the 70's that encouraged young people to go to college. But, even a college-educated mind can be wasted when negative thoughts play repeatedly in that mind. All too often, we waste mental energy thinking wrongly about ourselves and then acting or feeling based on these incorrect thoughts. To overcome this vicious cycle, Apostle Paul gave us a mental check list for evaluating our thoughts so they would be correct. When thoughts enter your mind, use the following questions as a filter for whether you need to let that thought play in your mind or if you need to discard it and replace it with positive, empowering thoughts. Intentionally think about each thought and ask:
True or False? When a thought enters your mind ask, "Is that true?" Honest evaluation will give credence to how you will act or respond to the information. If the thought is completely true and in line with what God's Word says about you (see Psalms 139 for some details about what God thinks about you), then determine if you can make an improvement or change and act on it. If not, then accept reality and move forward without experiencing remorse, guilt or regret. If the thought is only partly true or untrue either way, it's a lie. Replace the lying thought with a truthful thought.
Noble or Degrading? Ennoblement is the old word used to describe the act of treating someone as royalty. Our thoughts should elevate ourselves and others. The opposite of noble thinking is to debase, degrade or lower. This is not a prideful elevation of us or others but a realistic view that everyone is a valuable, wonderful creation of God and deserves to be treated and thought of that way. Thinking nobly will help us avoid thoughts of comparison or competition since we are thinking of everyone, including ourselves, with high regard.
Right or Wrong? Right living begins with right thinking. When you think thoughts that are right, they are in line with God's Word. To think rightly we must know what God says and that requires time reading and studying the Bible. Thoughts that are wrong will be very evident to you when you have the measuring stick of God's Word for comparison. Just as partial truth is a lie, almost right or mostly right is still wrong. When a thought is evaluated as wrong, replace it with what is right.
Pure or Tainted? Pure thoughts are clean, innocent, genuine, stainless and uncontaminated. Tainted or impure thoughts are stained by improper motives, greed, pride, selfishness, or lust. When you recognize impurity in your thoughts, capture (2 Corinthians 10:5) and quickly discard them so they will not influence your decisions or lead to wrong actions.
Lovely or Ugly? Beauty is evidence of a creative and awesome God. "He has made everything beautiful in its time." Ecclesiastes 3:11. When our thoughts reflect beauty they reflect God. Ugly and displeasing thoughts and topics do not bring glory to God.
Admirable or Critical? When someone gives a good report or review they are speaking admirably. Admirable thoughts are positive and uplifting. Critical thoughts are negative and tear down. Recognize and remove critical thoughts before they come out as destructive words or actions.
Excellent or Poor? To excel is to reach new heights or perform at a high level. Poor thoughts are below average, back-biting, gossipy, negative, and harmful. We need not be preoccupied with only the achievements of others but also the excellent or virtuous characteristics we personally possess. Change poor thoughts into high achieving excellent thoughts about yourself and others.
Praiseworthy or Blameworthy? Great job! Nice work! Well done! All these comments of praise are fitting for quality work. Use these thoughts about your accomplishments when you have done well. Blameworthy thoughts are ones that place the responsibility for your choices or actions on someone else. Change thoughts like, "He made me so mad," or "I didn't have a choice; she made me do it," to thoughts that are praiseworthy. "Great job! I can control my anger," and "I chose to act (react or respond) that way," are more praiseworthy from yourself, God and others. Avoid playing the mental "blame game" by replacing those thoughts with praiseworthy thoughts.
Think about it. Wouldn't your mind be better used thinking correctly? Memorize Paul's check-list from Philippians 4:8 and carefully evaluate your thoughts for a mind that honors God.
Branda Polk is a certified Fitness Instructor, personal trainer, and wellness coach in Memphis, Tennessee.