If anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Closing Our Minds
An old Gordon Lightfoot hit starts off with a real bang: “If you could read my mind, love, what a tale my thoughts would tell.” Although it’s a love song—a pretty good one, too—it’s hard not to shudder a little at that opening line. There are plenty of times when it’s safer all around if I keep my thoughts to myself. Often I wonder, What am I thinking? Far less often I ask, Why am I thinking? That's the first thing I should consider.
Evaluating our thoughts while we entertain them requires highly developed mental dexterity. In a way, it’s done with mirrors, watching from two sides: the idea itself and what’s behind it. And that’s nothing compared to managing a thought once it takes off! When that happens, buckle up, because there’s no telling how wild and dangerous the ride will get. That’s why Philippians wisely counsels us to carefully select the kinds of thoughts we have in advance. We’re at their mercy once they’re in our heads. But if we’re savvy to the motives that drive them, we can close our minds to their way of thinking.
We Are How We Think
Proverbs 23.7 says as a man “thinks within himself, so he is.” The notions and opinions we welcome into our psyche ultimately affect how we define ourselves from the inside-out. We foolishly believe since only we know what’s actually going on upstairs, our secrets are safe with us. And they may very well be—for a while. But in Luke 6.45, Jesus warns that what we harbor in our hearts will surface: “For out of the overflow of [a man's] heart his mouth speaks.” It doesn’t take a mind reader to expose us. We eventually tell the real story on our own.
What do we want to be? Who do we want to be? It completely depends on how we think. To be respected and admired, we cling to excellent, praiseworthy ideas and release those beneath our standards. Philippians gives us superb criteria to tell good thinking from bad. Good thoughts are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable, which means bad ones are dishonest, selfish, incorrect, corrupt, ugly, and shameful. It’s easy to see why good people and bad thoughts don’t mix.
Forget About It
Remember the Tempter has played mind games with us from the beginning. By planting just one lousy idea in Adam and Eve’s minds, he unleashed every harmful thought known to man. His strategy hasn’t changed since then because we keep falling for it. When an inferior, unhealthy motive tries to steal our mind, the only thing to do is forget about it. We send it packing. We get real smart. Who would ever think of such a thing? Not us!.
What were they thinking? And why on earth were they thinking that way?