Philippians 4:8 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Someday I am going to write an eloquent post elucidating my reasons why.
But not today.
Today, I am irrationally angry. I have no idea why, but I find when I stop to consider it that I can come up with a whole host of reasons. And this makes me even angrier.
Have you ever done this? Have you ever felt a sudden surge of anger and tried to figure out why and then gotten angrier and angrier as you began listing all the things that make you angry? Or had a day when you’re feeling rather blue, and asked yourself why, and found yourself feeling sadder and sadder as you pondered all the possible reasons you could be feeling sad?
Okay, maybe it’s just me. But as I was working myself into a fire-spitting fury for no definitive reason that I could deduce, I suddenly remembered Philippians 4:8: 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.
So I decided to think about fuzzy clean socks.
I’ll admit it, this didn’t help much. So I tried actually putting on fuzzy clean socks. This did help. So did eating dinner. But you know what helped even more? Writing this post. Because it got me thinking not about my own thinking, but about Biblical thinking. And even thinking about Biblical thinking got me thinking more Biblically.
It’s easy to let emotions dictate our thoughts, but this is not what the Bible commands. The Bible does not tell us to think about whatever we feel like thinking about. We are to take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). We are to direct our thoughts towards things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. This means we do not let our emotions dictate our thoughts; rather, our thoughts are to dictate our emotions.
It’s amazing what thinking about these good things can do for one’s attitude. Such thoughts are so powerful that apparently even if you can’t come up with something good to think about, just thinking about good thinking can help. If nothing else, it apparently distracted me enough that I’ve forgotten how angry I was.
Try it next time your emotions start heading in a non-Biblical direction. Don’t think about what you feel, think about what you think. Then, take your thoughts captive.
If that fails, try the fuzzy socks.
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. Philippians 4:8