There is a verse in the Bible I am in the daily habit of disregarding.
It is a very well-known verse. Walk into any Christian bookstore and you will see it on bookmarks, coffee mugs and t-shirts.
Philippians 4.8 says, ‘Whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things.’
How lovely and inspiring! What a wonderful verse to write out and put on my fridge.
What an easy verse to completely ignore.
Because so often thoughts are like the mouse in my attic.
A few weeks ago I went up into our loft space to get our summer clothing down and I discovered to my horror that a mouse had been living up there, making a nest and eating my favourite handbag. I didn’t know he was up there until it was too late.
Unattended lofts attract mice like unattended gardens welcome weeds.
Unattended minds are vulnerable to similar intruders.
If I never listen to my own thoughts and question their truthfulness, I am probably making a home for ideas that are contrary to God’s truth and they will be destructive in my life.
I need to decide to set high standards for what I think about because my thoughts become my beliefs and my beliefs become my actions. Like a burly bouncer standing outside a nightclub, I must be discerning about what I let into my mind each and every day.
Because lies always entangle and confuse us. Truth brings freedom and fruitfulness.
Whether we believe it or not our thought life is strongly influencing us. It is affecting who we are and how we see everything and everyone around us.
Psalm 51.6 is a powerful verse. In it, David writes that God wants truth in our innermost being.
One of the commentaries I read described this as being so full of truth we are incapable of self-deception. I don’t know about you but I need a whole lot of this kind of truthfulness in my life. I need God’s truth to reach every part of my soul. I need it to touch my mind, my will and my emotions so that pesky vermin are caught, weeds are eliminated and the good stuff can grow.
Because I know I am capable of believing lies and even lying to myself.
I do it all the time. Sometimes I lie to myself about why I don’t like someone. I justify my feelings in all sorts of ways when the truth is I am offended or envious or just entertaining unforgiveness.
Sometimes when I really want to do something I decide it is God’s will before I have even prayed about it and then I take the happiness I feel as God’s confirming peace.
Sometimes I am dead wrong and I manage to convince myself that I am right.
Sometimes I accommodate doubt, fear, anxiety or judgementalism. They come and go like lodgers with a key to my front door. Before I know it they are sitting at my table and dictating the conversation.
Have you ever really listened to your thoughts? Try it if you dare. Pick a day when you are not working and set your phone alarm to go off every hour. When it does, stop and listen to your thoughts. What are you preoccupied with? What keeps replaying over and over again? What are you dwelling on?
Be honest, what is the soundtrack of your life?
Tune in. Listen with an objective ear. Be honest with yourself.
I tried this a few months ago and it has changed my life. I discovered that my life, that was marked by anxiety, had a soundtrack of untruths. Why was I surprised?
Do you know that anxiety, fear, anger, worry and bitterness all have something in common? They all start with a thought.
Something will happen in your life, something hurtful or scary or difficult and then a thought arrives and we either invite it in or send it packing.
Decide today that when it comes to your thoughts, you are not a pushover. If it isn’t good or true or lovely or honest, it is not coming in.
It is your garden, your mind, your life and you decide what lives there.