Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. Philippians 4:8A few years ago I spent some time looking up each one of these words.
True: reality and fact, accurate, genuine, real
Noble: set apart, superior, high moral character
Right: beneficial, desirable, convenient, good, correct, being in accord with fact, reason and truth
Pure: without faults, clean, without impurities, inappropriate or unnecessary things
Lovely: full of love, inspiring love and affection, attractive qualities
Admirable: having wonder or delighted approval
Excellent: exceptionally good, superior, excelling
Praiseworthy: meriting praise and exaltation
I was surprised at how 'good' all of this was. I mean, seriously, how am I supposed to think only on this stuff? Have you seen what goes through my mind in a given hour, God? The answer...yes...He has. Verse 9 goes on to say, "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Wow, that's exactly what I need...peace. Romans 8:6b says, "The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace."
These everyday thoughts that I just wrote down definitely don't line up with what God wants me to be thinking on. It is not lovely, right, or true... Here's what He'd like me to think about: I am tired - God will give me rest. Thank you God. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) I feel alone - God says I'm never alone. Thank you God. He also says He will give me the desires of my heart...might just need to be patient... "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) and "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4) My spirit is downcast...just think about what He has done for me! The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy." (Psalm 126:3) Jane Doe...first of all this is my perception, it is not truth. But then I need to remember that Jesus, perfect Jesus, did not gain approval from everyone so why do I think that I should? "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first." (John 15:8) Why do I think I've failed when someone does not like me? It is okay that others do not like me. I will live at peace with everyone as far as I can and then leave it into God's hands. "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12:18)
Here is what the goal is - "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:15) Yes, a lot of my 'changed' thoughts above were scripture. But I know that it is truth. Sometimes it's hard to judge what is and isn't truth in my confuddled brain of mine. But I know that God's word is true, so I will start there. I will allow God to transform me into a new person - one thought at a time. And intentionally choose to think about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy . And the God of peace will be with me.
"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." (Romans 12:2 NLT)