What Is the Standard for Our Thoughts?
“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8
Our thoughts may be one of the easiest places for us to hide sin against others. We can display a nice smile, give a quick hug, say a sweet word, meanwhile no one knows the knife-like words you are throwing at them in your head. Somehow, we think we are much more holy because we keep our cruel words to ourselves.
But God doesn’t only call us to lift our words and actions to higher things—he gives the same standard for our thoughts.
When you assume the worst of your neighbor, are you thinking on what is true? When you number off all the annoying characteristics of your friend, are you thinking on what is honorable? When you dwell on the forgiven sins of the past of your sister, are you thinking on what is pure? Often the bad memories of a person are what float to the front of our minds, but God calls us to be diligent in our thought life, to guard it with the things of Philippians 4:8.
When we rest our thoughts on that which is yet untrue, dishonorable, and unjust about others, it will lead to further sins of bitterness and resentment. But when we seek help from the Spirit to lift our thoughts of others to purity, loveliness, and excellence, we can begin a path to restoration and healing.
God, in my distress and pain, I am tempted to think poorly about others. Please help me to lift my thoughts from this sinful mire and set them on that which is good.
Take a small card that you can carry with you and write down things you can think of from each of the characteristics listed in Philippians 4:8 for when you are tempted to let your thoughts drift the other way.