“Finally, brothers and sisters, 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)

In verse 8, Paul discusses the issue of right thinking. So many thoughts flood our minds. It’s up to us to control them. We can decide what we put into our minds – what we allow ourselves to dwell on or to meditate on. We all meditate on something. Is it other people? Is it something going on at work or with our kids or parents? Is it something we wish we’d done or not done? Was it even the game last night? In order to live a life with less worry and more joy (Phil 4:4) and peace (Phil 4:5,7), Paul tells us to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable – anything that is excellent or praiseworthy.

Okay, what exactly does that mean? Is that really doable today? I admit when I first read this – I kind of skimmed over all the words and thought … okay, so we can’t think about any normal worldly things – only godly, perfect things. … It seemed to be another statement that could make me feel guilty because I know my thoughts stray from these things.

Then, I realized – or God brought to my attention – that is wrong, or as I like to call it, stinky thinking! That’s what Satan would like me to think. Obviously, we will have thoughts that are not of these characteristics (such as the one I just had about this verse). But, we are to realize that those type of thoughts are not based on truth, but on a falsehood. So – we acknowledge it, don’t let that thought linger and then fill our minds with another right thought! Only dwell on the right thoughts!

It means being mindful about what we allow to enter our minds. It means being responsible about what we listen to, read and dwell on. It’s striving for right thinking versus stinky thinking! Right thinking is dwelling on – or meditating on whatever is:

  • True – righteous, honest, real, genuine, fact-based, not imaginary, accurate, verifiable, realistic, dependable – NOT FALSE or rumored
  • Noble – honorable, worthy of respect, dignified, of good reputation,
  • Right – what is just, upright, righteous, sense of being straight, reputable, sincere, virtuous, fair, equitable, correct, giving to God and people a justness that is worthy of them
  • Pure – cleanness, innocent, having the characteristics of moral and ritual purity, holy
  • Lovely – pleasing, agreeable, amiable, acceptable, beautiful
  • Admirable – commendable, praiseworthy, worthy of praise, of good repute, well-spoken of, of good report, of value
  • Excellent – excellence of character, virtue, moral goodness, moral excellence
  • Praiseworthy – worthy of praise, something worthy of high commendation, recognition, approval

Again, why is it important what we dwell on? Because what we think invariably leads to how we feel and how we act or live our life. Remember, as a man thinks in his heart, so he is. (Prov 23:7) So, many of our thoughts are not based on reality or truths and cause many of our worries in life. We have less peace, less sleep and less joy or contentment in life.

Obviously, the more we are in God’s Word – the more we will dwell on the things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. We will recognize these characteristics more readily. We will have more ammunition in our mind – more truths – to counter the wrong thinking. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Prov 4:23, NIV) And Jesus says in Mark 7:20-23, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

My Prayer:

Dear God,

Stinky thinking is something I have always struggled with – maybe others do too. For me, my mind is always running. And, as you know, it usually isn’t right thinking playing over and over again in my head. It’s usually thoughts of problems I’m dealing with or criticisms others may have shared with me – or that I have about myself. I tend to dwell on things I shouldn’t – things I should have done or shouldn’t have done, what I said or didn’t say to someone, about my weight, or what I’m doing or not doing around my house.

Help us Lord, to catch those thoughts as soon as they enter our minds. Help us to acknowledge them – call them what they are – wrong thoughts – not worthy to dwell on – not truth – not from you. Then help us to fill our minds with right thinking. Don’t let us dwell on things that are not the truth! If it’s not actual, genuine, fact-based – then help us to forget it. If it’s something that we’re afraid may happen in the future, but hasn’t happened yet – then remind us that it is NOT truth today!

Don’t let us dwell on things that are undignified or not honorable. There’s no need to keep thinking such thoughts. They’ll lead us down the wrong path. Don’t let us dwell on anything that is not right or just or sincere. Don’t let us dwell on anything that is unclean or not pure. There’s no good that can come out of it. Don’t let us dwell on anything unlovely or non-pleasing or not acceptable. They will just make us bitter or rob us of the joy and contentment you want us to have.

Don’t let us dwell on anything not admirable, commendable, praiseworthy or of good repute. There are so many things happening around us or about you that are praiseworthy that we could dwell on – that would help us. The other thoughts are not worth our time and even waste our time. Don’t let us dwell on anything not excellent or praiseworthy.

Lord, help me to start my day in your word. Help all of us to be more consistent in your word. Please give us wisdom to understand your word – eyes to see it, ears to hear it – so we know what you are saying and how to apply it to our lives. Help us to memorize it – to remember it so we may dwell on it throughout the day, so we will recognize and know that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Thank you for your steadfast love and faithfulness for us. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.