Bible Basics Explained | Anxiety Part 2

Devotional

Day 3 | Philippians 4:8 | You Are What You Think About

This devotional works best as an audio experience. Hit the play button now, and read along if you like. All verses quoted from the NIV.

Hello my Through the Word friends! How are you today? I do hope that today is a good one for you. My hope today is that you find yourself thinking about good things. That happens to be exactly what we’re going to talk about. We left off in Philippians 4 with Paul telling us the key to peace: replace worry with prayer and your anxiety with God’s peace. And we had that beautiful promise in verse 7:

…the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus"(Philippians 4:7).

Now that sounds lovely, but I have to admit - easier said than done. For me, prayer certainly helps a great deal; but when the praying is done, my mind keeps on thinking. When my mind gets to thinking, it tends to run itself right back to all those things I was worried about. Gravity pulls the wheels back into the mud, and that's how ruts get formed in the mud. The ruts in my mind:  worry.

I’m pretty sure God is aware of that, so in the very next verse He gives us something better to do with our thoughts. Philippians 4 verse 8:

“…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.” (Philippians 4:8).

So there are God’s directions for what to think about. After all, in terms of your body, you are what you eat. But as for your mind, you are what you think about.

Have you ever eaten at a restaurant where you could tell they use quality ingredients? I mean every bite is just so good. Good ingredients make good food, and good food is good for you. Not only is there more flavor, but there is also a lot more nutrients! And since you are literally made of what you eat, that affects you. Eat junk, feel junky. Eat good, feel great.

But what about your mind? I propose that, to a large extent, you are what you think about. So how do you keep your mind healthy? Feed it good things to think about.

Now we all know that exercise and a healthy diet are easier said than done. But we also know that getting them right can change your life. So what about your brain’s diet? What are you feeding it and where does your mind dwell?

Junk food generally gets us in trouble when we allow the food to take the lead. Eat whatever’s convenient. Eating well requires effort and purpose. The same goes for your thoughts. When you just let your mind consume whatever’s easiest and think about whatever it feels like, it will consume junk:  junk TV, junk social media, and junk worries and concerns.

But 2nd Corinthians 10 reminds us that:

“...we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

So when you find yourself thinking about the bad stuff, grab a hold of that thought and remind it - and yourself - who is the boss now. And I don’t mean you. I mean Jesus. If Jesus is your King, then His rule extends to your thought life. So remind your thoughts to obey Christ. And fix your thoughts on the stuff in this list here in Philippians 4.

First whatever is true. Lies and partial truths will always try to mess with your head. Kick them out. And fill your mind with truth. God’s word is true. Jesus is true. Jesus’ love for you is true.

And then, whatever is noble. Think about stuff that is worthy of honor, stuff you can respect.

Whatever is right. That means virtuous in character, equitable and innocent.

Whatever is pure. Think about stuff that’s clean and doesn’t leave behind muddy footprints in your brain that you can’t scrub out.

Whatever is lovely. That word literally means towards love - as in - think about stuff that moves your heart towards love. Stuff that makes you say, "Aww, I love that."

Whatever is admirable. That means stuff that is well-spoken, things you admire when you hear it. Dwell on that.

If anything is excellent or praiseworthy. That means moral excellence - things that are just done right, done God’s way. And when you see it, it is worthy of praise.

Paul says think about those things. Let your mind dwell there. Pave a new path for your mind - a path out of the mud and back onto solid ground.

Now that doesn’t mean that we should be ignorant of evil, or blind to the needs of our world. Ignorance is not the answer, yet neither is being consumed and overwhelmed by bad news. We should be aware and we should care so that we can pray and, as God directs us, do something about it.

So try this checklist. When your mind gets to dwelling on something, run it through the list. And that goes for TV, movies, gaming, music - that’s all part of your thought life. This is not a legalistic trip to make you feel guilty for watching dirty movies. Join us for the rest of Philippians and you’ll learn why those religious guilt trips don’t work. Actually, those self-righteous guilt trips generally lead to self-condemnation, which in the end leads to lots more anxiety. Don’t do it.

And yet do be mindful and careful about the media that you consume.

Think of it like this. When a wife starts eating healthy and exercising in the hopes that maybe if she looks good enough, she might make her husband love her again - that’s a bad reason and a broken relationship. Spiritually speaking, avoiding bad movies and music to try to make God love you more -that’s messed up. However, watching what you think and being wise about media simply because it’s good - well, that’s good for you and good for your relationship with God. Look. They may call it mindless entertainment, but your mind is still active and running as you take it in. You are thinking about it, and you are what you think about. All that stuff on the screen gets in you. So guard your mind.

Yet never forget that God loves you unconditionally.

Hebrews 12:2 tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. Jesus started your faith story, and He will finish it. And that is something noble - and right - and pure. It is lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

Next: Read Philippians 4:8

For Thought & Discussion:

  1. It has been said that “You are what you think about.” What does that mean? Do you agree?
  2. Lets put verse 8 into practice. Make a list of at least one thing in each of the eight categories listed for us to think about: true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. What happens when you dwell on those things?