In my devotions this morning, I was reading Philippians 4:8, which I call the "brain strainer" because it acts as a filter for the thousands of various thoughts that wander through our brains each and every day. Philippians 4:8 helps me determine which thoughts are good and helpful and which ones need to be cast away and brought under the captivity of Christ (II Corinthians 10:5). As I read through the familiar passage this morning, for the first time in my life, the word "lovely" jumped out at me, probably because the Lord has had me focusing on love so much of late.
It seems that, in the past, I just glazed over that word, understanding that our thoughts should be lovely, which, in my mind, meant the opposite of ugly. Pretty thoughts. Pleasant thoughts. But as I meditated on it this morning, I realized that the word lovely means so much more than that. Not only does it indicate something that is acceptable or pleasing, but it implies something that is full of love. With that in mind, the word lovely acts as a filter inside of the filter of Philippians 4:8. What does it mean for our thoughts to be lovely or full of love? To answer that question, we need only look at I Corinthians 13, known in Biblical circles as "the love chapter."
To save time and space, I won't type out the entire chapter here, but if you will allow me, I'd like to give you a rundown of how the Bible describes love. Keep in mind that these qualifications should also describe our thoughts. Ready for this? Here we go:
Love is patient, kind, content, humble, well-behaved, unselfish, gentle, of controlled thought, joyful in the truth, persistent, diligent and unfailing. Yikes! That certainly narrows the list of which thoughts are acceptable and which ones aren't, doesn't it? But just imagine what the world would be like if each of us were to run our thoughts through this filter on a regular basis. Patient and kind thoughts lead to patient and kind people. Humility breeds humility. With each of us caring for others above ourselves, wouldn't the world be a pleasant and more peaceful place? And to think, it all starts in the mind.
As you know from yesterday's post, I don't like things that are sicky sweet, so I'm not going to sugarcoat this. God has given us the instructions in His Word on how to think and what to think. He's even given us not one, but two, filters through which we can sift our thoughts in order to determine what's good and what's not. So, if negative thoughts are continuing to swim around in our heads, it can only mean one thing: we're not using the filters that God has provided. And that single act of neglect has the capacity to cause more damage in our lives than we could ever imagine.
Use the filters! That's why God gave them to us. Do your part to make this world a better place.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. - Philippians 4:8