Picky ol’ Paul: ‘Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.’ Philippians 4:8.Ok, is Paul saying that we should be always thinking of Jesus? Well, there is really no way anyone can get to that level of holiness while on earth. There have been some people who have come closer than others*, but really, to be thinking always on the things of heaven, and as most people interpret it nowadays, to constantly have your mind set apart from earthly things, is not only impossible, but it is irresponsible. Even Clyde Cranford in his book Because We Love Him makes it clear that no human will ever be wholly thinking of God.** We weren’t made that way. Ever since the fall man’s thought life has been restricted. We younger people must learn, and do our chores and schoolwork; adults ( though they usually lead an easier life) must work and make money and raise kids. Both of which hold us back from our desired state of constant meditation. Paul himself had to make tents every now and again. And even if we were free from all these things, would anyone have the gall to say that we would constantly be thinking perfect thoughts? I know we wouldn’t. We are weak humans.
But I do not blog to preach hopelessness. There are ways that we can try to aspire to what Paul was exhorting on the Philippians. Though we will never be able to completely purify our thoughts, which is something only God can do, but there are some things we can do to reach toward that goal. Here is a short list of practical ways that we can use, and I do not pretend that they are all original. This is not a formula for perfect thoughts, mind you, it is just a list of practical suggestions.
1) We can constantly hold in front of our face the consequences of evil thoughts. One of the most practical moves toward having pure thoughts is to put out bad thoughts. We have all had bad thought every now and again. We know that the result is usually a rather sick feeling, and a hard effort towards cleansing our thoughts.
1b)We can stop fuelling bad thoughts. The less bad things we look at, or read, or watch, the less we will compelled to think about it. Want you don’t know can’t hurt you, at least in some cases. Now I am not saying we should not watch a movie because it has a rude word in it, or read a book because it has a bad element to it. But we should be careful how such things effect us, and the motives behind it. There are certain things which are bad for some people, but not for others.
2) We can fill our heads with good or useful things. It is easy to keep evil thoughts out when you don’t have room for them. Clyde Cranford says that though we may not always be thinking of Christ, it is a good idea to think of good or creative things at all times. We should also strive to be free from excessive worry.
3)Hide God’s word in our hearts. The more we study, and memorize Scripture, the less room there will be for bad thoughts. Another good idea is to take more of the opportunities we are given to ponder scriptures. We have an amazing amount of free thought time, when we are doing something such as washing the dishes, which we spend in the goofiest manner.
4) We can focus on Christ as the purpose of all our actions. I am not saying that we should ask, ‘am I serving Christ while I am doing this?’ (which is a trap that many evangelicals fall for) But rather, ‘How may I serve Christ while I am doing this?….
Oh, dear, am afraid I have rambled on for much more than an ordinary post, and there is still a lot more to blog about besides the above subject. Perhaps I will continue this subject at a later time, and between now and then I shall write a quick post on some other things. But for now…
*Brother Lawrence, for example. **till we reach Heaven, that is.