When our son was four years old, he declared one of the most profound and true things I’ve ever heard. He was sitting in the back seat of the car (It’s so embedded in my mind that I can even recall where I was on Highway 96): “If you think you’re stupid, you’ll be stupid tomorrow.” How in the world did he know at that age that, “As a man thinketh, so is he?”

There are so many options of things to occupy my mind. Paul laid out a filter for my thoughts in Philippians 4:8,9. If the subject matter I am pondering doesn’t fit one or all of these criteria, then I need to arrest that thought, hand-cuff it, take it captive, and send it to Jesus to obey His direction.

Here are the standards for what I can allow my mind to dwell on (Phil. 4:8,9). These things are:

True. I need to dwell in reality. Insane as it is, sometimes I let me mind wander into the world of “what if’s”. These are fearful thoughts. I create scenarios of disaster in my mind of things that could happen. These meditations send me into a downward spiral of dread and despair and, ultimately, if I continue in this vein, depression.

Honorable. Some thoughts can pass for true, but are not honorable. For example, it may be true that someone’s bad habit is irritating to me, but it isn’t honorable to dwell on that. That thought must is, therefore, disqualified.

Right. Whatever I’m thinking about, needs to be in line with God’s standard of rightness. For this, I need to study, become familiar with, and dwell on His rules of conduct in Scripture, rules that are boundaries of safety, ensuring a life of joy.

Pure. Keep it clean. Pure thoughts take me away from moral disaster. Whenever we allow our thoughts to lead to immoral thinking, we live to regret it. Purity is losing popularity in our culture, much to our demise. My dad who passed away almost a month ago was brilliant at keeping the world clean, and that included his mind and words. For as long as I can remember he picked up trash wherever he was and disposed of it. As a godly man who lived God’s principles, he did the same thing with his thoughts. He kept the world a little bit cleaner. May God deliver His church from porn. The secret is to think His thoughts, and to hate what he hates: things that cause us to self-destruct.

Lovely. Years ago I played the part of Peter Pan in the musical of the same name. When Peter was teaching the children to fly, he sang these words, “Now, think lovely thoughts, and up you’ll go.” Two of the three kids soared immediately. Michael wasn’t there yet. “Lovelier thoughts, Michael,” Peter instructed. Then Michael hit on it: “Christmas!” That did it, he floated then and there. Think lovely thoughts. This takes discipline.

Admirable. I need to ponder things, people, and situations that I admire. Things that bring me joy and satisfaction. While a certain subject may be true, like something I did or said in the past that I regret, that thought has to be eliminated under Paul’s instruction; it isn’t admirable.

Excellent. “Set your mind on things above.” Things that are superior – not rubbish or even things that pass for mediocre. David said, “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes.” I need to think thoughts that are worth something.

Worthy of Praise. This really limits what I can think about, but I can meditate on the Lord, His ways, and His Word to my heart’s content. He certainly fulfills all the criteria Paul lays out. The Psalmist determined within himself to think about God’s instructions all day long (Psalm 119:97). He said, “I am always thinking of your laws.” (verse 99). “I will quietly keep my mind on your laws.” (verse 95)

So, don’t spend your precious moments thinking you’re stupid or that anyone else is stupid. Instead, think about how wise God is! And how He can and will make you wise, as you ponder His Word and His ways.

Father, help me today to set my mind on things above. I desire to obey Your Word, to use this criteria as a sieve that filters out all thoughts that don’t pass inspection. Grant me the self-discipline to take every thought captive and make it obey you. Help me to command my mind, not allowing it to wander aimlessly, to my demise.

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