We are busy, life seems to wake up before we do and takes off running. We are spreading ourselves around like seed bearing dandelions on a windy day. When in reality at times we lose sight of the ‘X’ (YOU are here) on our daily map.
Paul writes to the Philippians, in his most personal written letter to a church, he thanks them for their generosity and care for him. His theme throughout his letter is joy, fourteen times he speaks of joy. Folded in among his smiling words of affirmation ‘Rejoice… rejoice… don’t be anxious, operate in thanksgiving, peace… (Paraphrasing) he adds yet again one of his lists, oh Paul loved his lists. Chapter 4, “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.” (v8)
In today’s economy, we really don’t factor in time to think. Most is done on a whim, we rely on habit and sadly we just get in line and follow. Interestingly, Paul’s ink dipped word for think isn’t our average ‘quick – consider as we reach for our opinion’ and move on. He is urging us to weigh it out. It takes time, a process. The picture he is painting is likened to one of those old scales the gold miners would use; a valued weight would be placed on one side and their product on the other. THIS is what Paul speaks of, it is a calculating term. Does what consumes my thoughts, what is in front of me, does what I read, what I see, what I deem worthy of spending myself on … equate God and God stuff (true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy) If it doesn’t, then get it OFF the scale! Plain and simple. He continues with (in short) “Put into practice what you have learned from me and the God of peace will be with you.” (v9)
It is up to us to take pause, evaluate – putting it on the scale – weighing it out – does it equate God …thinking about such things.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
Recently I heard the question posed from the pulpit, “What do you spend yourself on?” In other words, where does the energy you give out … go? As the pastor took off in one direction, this got me thinking (no pun intended) in another. For the majority of us, we tend to spend more time and energy in our thought life. We day dream, we ponder, we fantasize, we stress AND we fear.
Paul of the Bible was a man of lists, he loved his lists. Love is ____ . (1 Cor.13) The fruit of the Spirit is____. (Gal. 5) Put on the full armor of God ____. (Eph. 6) Just to name of few. Paul again lets the scroll fall to the ground with the list of things to ‘think about’.
“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.” (Phil. 4:8 ~ NIV)
Other translations use terms such as dwell, meditate, fix and fill your mind. All indicate a deliberate act, OCCUPY yourself with these. There is an eastern practice called ’emptying the mind’. Have YOU ever tried that? The more you try – the more thought comes to mind. Those sheep keep prancing over the fence! Paul doesn’t say void your mind of thought. On the contrary, he speaks of discipline. In 2 Cor. 10:5, Paul writes, “… take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Because thought is such a vital aspect of our lives, Paul places a huge emphasis on what goes on in our head, which in reality affects our heart, perspective, and actions … our obedience. We are to exercise our mind in such a manner that leads to Godly behavior and responses.
One way to look at it is, picture a cow chewing his cud (sorry to be gross) he is focused, as he again and again – chews and chews, this is part of his digestive system. This, his designed survival mechanism. To ruminate, for us, is liken to ‘chewing the cud of the mind’, (DeDe’s disgusting imagery) to mull over again and again. This is what Paul is talking about, take the things that are true, noble, right and pure and chew on them. Whatever is lovely, admirable, excellent and praise worthy ~ allowing these to be part of our Christ focused digestive system.
May we like the Psalmist say, “I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds.” (Ps. 77:12) This alone will keep us busy, obedient and OUT of TROUBLE! Lower anxiety, live in reality. Like my friend Kelly said, “Gotta love mind cud.” Chewing on the good things of God.
In Him, DeDe