Today we are going to start with a word and that word is “think”. We use this word in reference to the inner workings of the mind (what are you thinking about?) and also to talk about the decision making process (What do you think? / I think we should..). Think can also be used as a substitute or synonym for “feel” but for now I would like to keep the focus on the mind and the mental processes that think refers to.
How we think and what we think about will, in large part, determine how we live and the things that we do. This is an important truth to realize because there is a very fierce spiritual battle that is being waged for our thoughts and the decisions that come out of them. One side is fighting for God and all He stands for (grace, peace, love, joy, life, etc.) and the other side is fighting for the deceiver and all he stands for (accusation, guilt, error, fear, death, etc.).
I’ve used Philippians 4:8 in a blog post before but it is worth repeating here because it is so relevant and important:
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8) NKJV
In this verse the New King James version (which is the one we used) uses the word “meditate”. The New American Standard version uses “dwell” in the same spot while the traditional King James version uses the word “think”. They are all worth mentioning because while similar, all three words mean something slightly different in English. Dwell means to stay, abide or even live in, as in the case with a dwelling. Meditate is a deeper, longer version of think. We might think of something quickly and then go on to something else but generally meditation happens over a period of time and requires effort and will to achieve.
Therefore, think = short term,(possibly even spontaneous) meditate = longer term with more of a focus on effort, dwell = even longer term with a focus on permanence. The idea being presented here is that our brief, fleeting thoughts should be full of these things, our focused thoughts should be full of these things and our permanent ideas and core values should also be full of these things. (These things being whatever is noble, just, pure, lovely, good report, virtuous or praiseworthy). In short, our thoughts should start, stay and end on good things!
This requires practice, effort and work because it most certainly does not come naturally. As human beings who are prone to error and sin, we can only do this through the power of the Holy Spirit and the surrender of our will to His and by getting to know God and His Word, the Bible. Day by day, God can transform us and remake us in His image, if we allow it.
I say all of this to say that our enemy is deceptive and clever and his best weapons are subtle and difficult to detect until we are already in trouble. Our enemy wants our thoughts to be muddled. He does not want us to focus on God and His Word. He knows that God’s Word always produces results in us and will always convict a heart and change a life. If he can keep us distracted and on our computers, phones, game systems, televisions or use any other method to try to keep us out of God’s Word and off of our knees in prayer then he will do so.
It is up to us to recognize his plan and the way that he tempts and deceives us and to not fall for it. What we think about and the actions that result from those thoughts matter greatly to God and to the world around us. We must put Philippians 4:8 into practice and do so visibly and joyfully. To do so would make an incredible difference in many lives.