One of the most helpful encouragements in the Christian scriptures toward healthy thinking is Philippians 4:8.
Here is something about Philippians 4:8 that’s easy to miss but very powerful:
It’s the order of priority given to deciding what to dwell on. The verse is a series of filters and the order in which they’re applied is important. Let’s list them and then I’ll tell you why.
- Whatever is true.
- Whatever is honorable.
- Whatever is right.
- Whatever is pure.
- Whatever is lovely.
- Whatever is of good repute.
- Anything of excellence.
- Anything worthy of praise.
Notice number 5.
Can you imagine what would happen to your imagination if you let your mind dwell on lovely things without first applying the other filters, especially the purity filter? (Actually, I guess most of us don’t have to imagine; we know full well from our own experience.) Filters 1-4 define what is genuinely lovely as opposed to what is merely attractive to the senses.
Then there’s number 6.
Without filters 1-5, thinking of things of good repute simply has you thinking along with the herd. Group think. There are times when group think can be really, really ugly.
How well has thinking like everyone else worked out for you so far?
Here’s one of my favorite things about the Bible.
It has some really cool functions. Almost like apps. There’s a Love Letter app. There’s a History app. And a Biography app. There’s even an Everyone’s Picking On Me How Will I Ever Survive app. Lots of apps.
Philippians 4:8 is part of my (currently) favorite app: The Owner’s Manual app.
The God Who Created All Things put together a special app to explain to the human part of his creation how to care for and maintain itself. Philippians 4:8 is part of that app.
If you read the Bible merely as a list of requirements and prohibitions, you’re missing what is really cool about it. If you read it as the surest way to function well and be happy? Then you’re off to a good start.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. —Philippians 4:8