There are some motivational speakers and authors who preach the power of our thoughts. “If you think it, you can be it.”
Now, I’m not discounting the fact that our thoughts have a lot to do with how we feel, and our feelings contribute to what we do. Typically, thoughts lead to feelings, feelings lead to actions. So imagining myself CEO of the company might help me to feel confident, which will give me the courage to take on those hard projects that will get noticed by those in charge. Even the Bible tells us how important is our thought-life.
This time of year, when so much focus in put on family and friendships, can be hard for some people. The loss of a loved one still feels like a knife to the heart. The empty chair, whether through death, or anger, or neglect, seems the focal point of the whole house. Every Hallmark movie, every Christmas song on the radio, every card that comes (or doesn’t come) in the mail reminds us of what is wrong.
And we get sadder, or angrier, or lonelier than we were the day before. We remember the harsh words said in our last conversation. We replay happier times, and tell ourselves we will never be that happy again. Our thoughts can swallow us whole.
But here’s some good news. Paul tells us God offers peace. Not just in good times. Paul simply says, “And the God of peace WILL BE WITH YOU.” (4:9, emphasis mine)
How? How can I find peace when my heart is broken, when anger or regret or hurt feelings occupy 90% of my day? The answer is here in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. He says think instead on these things:
“…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.” (4:8)
Do you want peace in your heart and life? Then think about what is true. Not just about your situation, although that is certainly important. Think about what is true about God. Turn your thoughts away from yourself, and toward Him.
Think about what is noble and right. Take the high road. You might be the one who needs to swallow your pride, to reach out to that one with whom you are estranged. It’s Jesus’ example that we show love to those who are not loving toward us. It’s the right thing to do.
Think about what is pure, lovely, and admirable. Don’t let your thoughts sink to the gutter. Don’t wish someone ill. Don’t keep reminding yourself how unfair you think they’ve been. Get rid of anger, selfish ambition, jealousy, evil.
Think about things that are excellent and praiseworthy. Has God blessed you? Then think about that. Talk to Him about how thankful you are for what He has given you, without mentioning what you think He should give you. Praise Him for who He is to you.
Scripture tells us if we get a handle on our thoughts, the God of peace will be with us.
If you’re okay with feeling depressed, lonely, or angry this Christmas, then don’t change anything. But if you want to experience God’s peace, I’ll go so far as to promise His joy, then change your thoughts.
When Satan would nudge you with negativity, turn it into praise. Think instead on that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable. “If anything is excellent or praiseworthy…” think about those things instead.
If you want God’s peace, you can have it. Think about it.