“Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny!”
Just about everything in life begins in our mind with our thoughts. Those thoughts then translate into our actions and emotions. Whether it’s love, hate, anger, sadness, excitement, fear, jealousy, or any other emotion, chances are, it started with your thoughts. The way we think about and perceive people determines how we feel about them, as well as how we treat them. Our outlook on life determines how we live, who we love, what we hate, what excites us, who and what we fear, et cetera. Our thoughts determine our actions. This is why our thoughts matter so much!
This month, we’ve been going through the various characteristics of excellent and praiseworthy thoughts, encouraging you and hopefully challenging you to evaluate every thought that goes through your head and determine whether it’s true, whether it’s noble, and now, whether it’s right.
Philippians 4:8 says, “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.” (NIV)
In order to get a more rounded view of what Paul means when he tells the believers at Philippi to think on what’s right, I consulted a couple of other translations.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (ESV)
“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.” (KJV)
If you read carefully above, you’ll notice that the ESV and KJV vary slightly from the NIV in their choice of wording and translation. The NIV uses the word right, whereas the ESV and KJV use just. After I noticed this variation, I went and checked the dictionary I had on hand (and by on hand, I mean on my computer) to see what the connection was between right and just. Below are the definitions for both, provided by the New Oxford American Dictionary.
Right: morally good, justified, or acceptable
Just: based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair
Both words, used in the context of this verse, have a very similar meaning, which can be boiled down to “morally right/good”. So Paul is, in essence, telling us to think on whatever is morally right or good.
Without going too deep into the definition of morality, I think each of us has a general idea of what is and what is not acceptable to God. Is there anything in your thought life that is distracting you or pulling you away from God? Are you listening, watching, or reading anything that is morally corrupt, isolating you from God? Do you have peace about your thought life or is there something that’s been bothering you, something that’s been making you feel uneasy. If there is, I encourage you to take a solid look at what you’re filling your mind with.
Remember, our thoughts do matter. Our thoughts quickly become our actions, which quickly become our lives. Our thought life has the ability to protect us or ruin us.