Summary: What we think about is so important, because what we think is what we become. Here in Philippians 4:8-9, Paul tells us what kinds of good things we should think about.
A. Whenever I got into trouble as a boy, which happened once in a while, my mother would ask me: “What were you thinking?”
1. Can you guess what my favorite answer was? “I don’t know.”
2. Truth is: most of the time I wasn’t thinking, or at least I wasn’t thinking clearly enough!
B. In reality, our brains are always at work.
1. Even while we are sleeping, our minds are still engaged – thinking, processing, planning, and trying to resolve problems.
2. Our mental computers never shut down.
3. Scientists say that about 10,000 thoughts go through the human mind each day (I would have guessed that the number was higher than that).
C. Because our brains are doing so much thinking, it is important to evaluate just what we are thinking.
1. What kinds of thoughts are running through our minds?
2. What kinds of thoughts are putting down roots?
3. What kinds of things are our minds really focused on?
D. Why is it so important that we evaluate our thoughts?
1. The answer is: because we are what we think.
2. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Beware of what you set your mind on for that you will surely become.”
3. Here is a more well-known quote from Emerson: “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
4. Where did the destiny begin? With a thought – in our minds.
5. The King James Version of Proverbs 23:7 says: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
6. All of us are a product of our thoughts.
E. The spiritual battle begins and is ultimately won or lost in our minds.
1. Proverbs 4:23 tells us: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
2. The apostle Peter gave this command: “Prepare your minds for action…” (1 Pet. 1:13).
3. The apostle Paul explained: “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 Cor. 10:5).
4. Paul also commanded: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Rom. 12:2)
F. My aim today is to encourage and challenge us to keep our minds focused on what is pure and true.
1. In our text in Philippians 4:8-9, Paul commanded the Christians in Philippi to lift the level of their thinking.
2. In our last sermon from this series, a couple of weeks ago, we examined the preceding verses and determined that if we were going to survive and thrive, we needed to be joyful, graceful, and peaceful.
3. I want us to add to that list that we need to be thought-full – full of the right kind of thoughts.
4. Allow me to share some suggestions for winning the battle of the mind.
I. First, Allow Only Good Thoughts to Stay In Your Mind.
A. Paul spelled out in detail the kinds of things we ought to be thinking about.
1. He wrote: 8 Finally, brothers, 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. 9 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. (Phil. 4:8-9)
2. Let’s briefly examine more closely each of these items from verse 8.
a. We need to think about “whatever is true” – opposed to things that are false and deceitful – notice that this is at the beginning of Paul’s list.
- We often start with the most important when we are listing things.
b. We need to think about “whatever is noble” – in contrast to things that are ignoble, dishonorable or unworthy.
c. We need to think about “whatever is right” – as opposed to things that are wrong or unjust.
d. We need to think about “whatever is pure” – in contrast to the things that are impure, unholy, or dirty.
e. We need to think about “whatever is lovely” – as opposed to things that are unlovely or ugly.
1. Some commentators say that “winsome” is the best translation of this word.
2. Webster defines “winsome” as “causing joy or pleasure; pleasant; cheerful; merry.”
f. We need to think about “wherever is admirable” – rather than things that are disreputable or scandalous.
g. We need to think about “whatever is excellent” – in contrast to things that are inferior or second-rate.
h. Finally, we need to think about “whatever is praiseworthy” – rather than things that are shameful or punishable.