The Best Place to Park Your Mind Today
Written by Lysa TerKeurst (First 5 Ministries)
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Before I even have my first cup of coffee most mornings, the mental battle begins. Lies bombard me with scripts that don’t line up with truth and drag my mood down before I’m even given a fair shot to enjoy this new day.
Some of the lies that can show up day after day for me:
“It will never get better.”
“My life will never be good again.”
“God won’t forgive me.”
“I can’t forgive them.”
“I won’t be able to get over this.”
“God doesn’t care.”
Without even realizing it, those lies begin to inform my beliefs and steal my peace. The danger is that lies don’t just pass through our thoughts. Lies ravage our beliefs.
Lies, unattended to, affect the perceptions we form. The perceptions we form eventually become the beliefs we carry. The beliefs we carry determine what we see. That’s why we must be so careful to recognize where lies are affecting us. Our faith can get fractured by the lies we let inform our beliefs.
Thankfully, God doesn’t leave us to fight the daily onslaught of lies on our own. The Bible, while inspirational, is also very applicable. And when we turn to God’s Word to know what to do with the thoughts and lies causing commotion in our minds, we can begin the work of transforming those first moments in the morning into holy moments. And then we can set a better pattern for all the other thoughts we have the rest of the day.
In the book of Philippians, we find Paul in prison writing to the church of Philippi. If there were ever a perfect situation for someone to start believing the wrong things about themselves, their people, and God, it’s Paul writing a letter from prison. But he doesn’t waver. And in his closing words of Philippians 4, Paul addresses the connection between peace and our thought-life.
In the verses leading up to today’s passage, Paul details the importance of prayer in order to experience peace and protection from anxiety. (Philippians 4:6-7) But now in verse 8 he reminds us that prayer is to be followed with proactive thinking and living.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8).
True. Honorable. Just. Commendable. Excellent. This isn’t some haphazardly pieced together list of nice things to ponder. Many scholars believe Paul is taking words and phrases already being used by the philosophical writers of his time and giving those terms a better and more fulfilling meaning by connecting them to Jesus. These are the things we can think about, not just because it seems humanly wise and not because they’re a delightful break from the lies we explore, but because they will bring us peace as we align our thoughts with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the very next verse, Paul tells us what is promised to us when we actively think about and purposefully live out such things: “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me-practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (v. 9).
The peace of God. That is what I really long for.
Friend, rather than giving space to any lies that are trying to come in and set up camp in your mind today, remember that God has given instructions for a better place to park our thoughts. This doesn’t mean we deny ourselves processing hard things or complicated relational struggles, but it does mean we stay clear-headed enough to untangle any lies compounding the issues so we can tackle them with truth.
When we set our minds on the things of God, we will have direct and immediate access to the peace of God.