‘Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable –if anything is excellent or praise worthy –think about such things’ ~ Philippians 3:8
As a man ‘thinketh in his heart, so is he’ (Proverbs 23:7). But man has many thoughts ranging from the past, present, future and some regarding non-existent things. Every moment of our lives, different thoughts crisscross the mind begging the question, which thought exactly defines man? Paul observes that in actual sense, it is the pattern of man’s thought that defines one and so writes, ‘Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ (Romans 12:2). The world influences man’s pattern of thinking to that of worry, anxiety, success, and self-will. That is why many best-selling books concern ‘activating the mind’, ‘quietening the mind’ or ‘shaping the mind’. They all attempt to revolutionize the mind but none has offered a complete remedy for making man thoughts true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praise worthy. And so in essence, man fails to become the aforementioned things in totality.
The remedy for changing one’s thoughts does not start with the mind. It cannot start with the mind. And so, many bestselling books miss the mark. Though the mind houses and facilitate thoughts, the mind in itself cannot change thoughts and neither can thoughts change the mind. When one attempts to do this, they only spin a never-ending web that ends up entangling their minds deeper into a prison of despair. But there is one remedy. David reveals it when he writes, ‘On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night’ (Psalm 63:6). David is referring to God. He reveals that a shift of our thoughts come not from right thinking or having the right mind-set, but focusing on the One. In contrast, right thinking and mind-set philosophies insist on changing one’s thoughts, which is futility at its best. But thinking about God is the true remedy, for one cannot have a worldly thought pattern and a spiritual one at the same time. One has to replace one for the other.
But what is there to think about God? One may wonder. Jesus responds, ‘You diligently study the Scriptures . . . These are the Scriptures that testify of me’ (John 5:39). Only by knowing what the Scriptures say, can we have unending things to think about God, for ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’ (John 1:1). The Scriptures lay bare Jesus, the Word, and so when we know Jesus, we know God because the Word was God. The more we read Scriptures and ‘meditate on it day and night’ (Joshua 1:8), the more we can think about God. The Word gives something to our minds to feed on, as we think of His nature, splendour, majesty, beauty, mercy, holiness, faithfulness, love, dominion, plans, and more. No wonder David writes, ‘One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and seek him in his temple’ (Psalm 27:4).
In order to think about God, we need not merely look at Him, a gaze, as David writes, is required. The more we search and gaze upon Scriptures, an image of God forms. Those who peruse the Scripture and read it on a timer fail to gaze upon the beauty of the holiness of God. As a result, they fail to think like God, and become like Him- for as a man thinketh, so is he. Paul says that ‘the Holy Scriptures . . . are able to make you wise’ (2 Timothy 3:15), and so urges, ‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom’ (Colossians 3:16). The more we dwell richly on God’s Word, the more He dwells richly in us. And whatever comes from us will be wisdom from God- all that is true, noble, right pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praise worthy– for only God is all these things.
Since ‘from everlasting to everlasting you are God’ (Psalm 90:2), there can never be an end to thoughts about Him. Each day we open Scriptures, we see something else of Him. We learn Him and the evidence of how we think soon start to reflect. When Jesus was tempted by the devil in three ways, each time He responded by, ‘It is written’ (Matthew 3:4,7,10). He responded using Scriptures for He thought Scriptures. In the same way, our responses to our clamorous thoughts, anxious future, tough situations, and disarrayed surroundings should be made by Scriptures. The more we think Scriptures, the more we realize that whenever questions and doubts arise from within us or from others, we are able to respond by the Word. We are able to overlook the past, present, and future circumstances through lenses of Scriptures, which usually contradict what we see or come to have known in the natural.
Those who fail to think Scriptures address their thoughts in a natural way, and so fall prey to the Tempter. They use logic, science, experience, experiment, and other worldly knowledge to gauge their response to life. Their pattern of thinking is thus of the world. They themselves become worldly because as a man thinketh so is he. In fact, ‘The natural man does not receive things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned’ (1 Corinthians 2:14). And so, to the natural man who does not think Scriptures, Jesus admonishes ‘Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgement’ (John 7:24). Jesus was basically saying in finality that Scriptural, spiritual thinking is always right. So, Scriptural thinking should be done continually and in every matter. Those who fail to do so adopt a worldly view like Peter who at one time gave a non-Scriptural, natural response prompting Jesus to rebuke, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men’ (Matthew 16:23). In short, when we fail to think Scriptures in all matters, we adopt a fallen pattern of thinking – that of the fallen angel, the devil.
‘Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to punish all disobedience, once your obedience is fulfilled’’ ~ 2 Corinthians 10:5-6