Back in November of 2009, I saw a trailer for a very popular movie. The acting was incredible and the talent and tears of the actress drew me in; I can still remember it. But after I researched the movie I had to sit back and contemplate whether I would, or should go see it. I was torn. I happened to be on Facebook at the time, so I sent out a post asking if anyone had seen the movie and what he or she thought of it. I did not get many replies, but one of my friends simply responded with Philippians 4:8. This is what she wrote: finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. The movie was none of these things.
But I have to be honest (and I’m not proud to say it) I still considered seeing it. My mind wrestled. Every time I thought about the movie, without fail, Philippians 4:8 would pop into my head. I could not escape it; it’s like it followed me around and suddenly I knew the verse by heart. The movie was not honorable or right or pure or lovely or admirable and definitely not praise worthy. Was it true? Sadly, for many, I believe it was, yet it was nothing I should ever sit and entertain myself with. I never saw the movie.
The point of my story is not the movie, but what this Scripture has taught me. It is teaching me how to think. Romans 1:28 says “Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.” Retaining the knowledge of God keeps us from having a depraved mind.
I don’t want a depraved mind. I want my head and heart to be full of the things of God. Isn’t God true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy? To all other things I say, “Stay out!”
Sometimes though, what goes in our heads is unavoidable. Years ago I remember having to alter my driving route while bringing my girls home from school. A bus stop displayed a poster of some very vulgar sins (yep – that’s what it was… sin) and I could not let my girls see it. I did not want them to fix their eyes on it. I did not want them thinking about it.
Philippians 4:8 is not a request from God. It’s a direction. He is asking us to think about Him, to keep our mind on Him. Why does He make this request? Because He knows there is nothing better. God knows there is nothing better than Him. He has seen it all and knows it all. From Genesis to Revelation God has ran the gamut. There is no narcissist attitude in Him, just truth.
Psalm 139:2 says, “You perceive my thoughts from afar.” Why does David add ‘from afar’? I mean, where did God go? I believe he was saying, “God sees our thoughts at all times no matter how far we might feel from God. Nothing is hidden from him, not ever.”
Let Scripture be the gatekeeper of our thoughts. This is not a standard of works, but a standard of Holiness. Let us protect our thoughts with Philippians 4:8. Allow it to be the checklist for what you think about, what you set your eyes on. God clearly cares about this and we should too.