“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me — everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9 NLT)
The brain is a very strange thing. We’ve all had those times where something just gets stuck in your brain. Often, it’s a song that you heard on the radio that you can’t get out of your head. You catch yourself singing or humming it under your breath and you don’t even realize that you’re doing it. It can drive the people around you (and even yourself!) crazy. It doesn’t even have to be a song you like, but for whatever reason it’s in there and it’s not coming out.
Then, there are other times when you NEED to focus on something but just can’t. Maybe it’s an important project at work, or a school assignment, or some task that has been hanging out on the to-do list for days. It seems like no matter how hard you try to stay on task little distractions pull your attention away or you read the same sentence over & over and the click of comprehension never comes. It can be infuriating!
Despite all its quirks, the brain is amazing for its ability to sift through mountains of data quickly. Scientists tell us that the brain processes trillions of signals each second, receiving all kinds of information about the world around us through our nervous system. Then, it has to filter all of that data to figure out which signals are important and deserve our attention. Not every piece of information that we receive is worthy of our attention.
This is what Paul is talking about in this passage. The world throws a lot of junk information at you, and with our current level of technology the stream of information has become an absolute flood! Whether it is time-wasting entertainment, 24-hour talking heads on the news, social media sites that never stop updating, or the general busyness of modern life, many things are clamoring for our attention. In addition to the overwhelming quantity of information, the things that the world is feeding to us have become increasingly coarse, vulgar, and rude, as well.
That is why we must be careful to train our minds, “fix our thoughts,” to focus on those things that are worthy of our attention. We have to be careful about which information streams are allowed into our thought processes, and we have to be intentional about seeking out the voices that are speaking Wisdom and Truth into our lives. We need to be careful, as well, that we are not drowning out God’s voice, because God will not impose Himself upon us. If we seek, we will find; if we call, He will answer. However, He will not force us to heed His voice.
Just as the quantity and quality of the food that you eat can have positive or negative effects on your physical body, the things that we consume mentally and spiritually will have an impact on your inner health. I hope that you will take a moment this week to evaluate the things that occupy your thoughts. Are they True? Honorable? Right? Pure? Lovely? Admirable? Excellent? Worthy of Praise?
Prayer: Father, I pray that you will give us the wisdom to discern those things that are drawing our attention away from You. Help us to identify and filter out the negative voices, so we can focus our full attention on what YOU would speak into our lives. Amen.