Martin Luther has been quoted as saying, “While you cannot prevent birds from flying over your head, you can prevent them from building a nest in your hair.” You will never have a joyful, enduring faith if you surrender the fight raging on the battlefield in your mind. Far too many Christians have let the sinful birds of lies, deceit, immorality, etc. to build nests in their hair; allowing the enemy to run rampant among their thoughts. The tragic result is that many Christians are miserable, resentful, bitter, ineffective, and unfruitful in their service for Christ Jesus.
Think on These Things
In Philippians 4:8-9, Paul reminded the Church in Philippi of the importance of proper, Christian thinking. Your mind is an important battlefield and you cannot let the enemy control your thoughts. Paul listed eight (8) essential characteristics of Christian thought. These are not helpful suggestions for our thoughts but are to be taken in unison as essential characteristics of what we should dwell/meditate/think on as Christians who love Christ and are following Him. For example, something may be true, but is it also honorable? Is it also lovely? Christ followers are commanded by our loving Father to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). We must run our thoughts through the characteristics listed below and if any thought fails at any point, we reject it. We refuse to allow ungodly thoughts to occupy our thoughts. When I am thinking about something is it:
- True – Am I dwelling on what is true? It rarely does any good to dwell on what is false. While it is important for us to think faithfully and wisely about future days; we must not be anxious about “What if’s and the What about’s”.
- Honorable – Am I dwelling on what is dignified, worthy of reverence, and awe-inspiring? Or is it sinful and wicked?
- Just – The justice of God and anything that is not injurious or defrauding to anyone else. Is it right and fair? Is it deceiving?
- Pure – Am I dwelling on what is morally pure and undefiled? Clean, pure thoughts, words, and deeds. Is it clean and holy? Is it evil and impure?
- Lovely – Something that is pleasing, winsome, and most importantly, excites love. Is it loving/pleasing or is it lustful and/or carnal?
- Commendable – Anything that is of good report and it denotes fair-speaking about others. Would you feel embarrassed sharing it?
- Any excellence – This is something excellent in a morally pure way. This speaks of virtue and moral excellence. Is it excellent in a morally pure way? Is it edifying?
- Anything worthy of praise – This is anything that results in praise of God. Does this result in Christ being praised and worshipped?
Paul wrote, “meditate on these things.” We are to take the thoughts that pass the test and dwell on them in our thoughts. This should be a continual process as we develop this habit. Let us take our thoughts as they come, process them through this “filter” and dwell only on those that pass the test. This is a vital part of a life that is lived for the glory of God.
Practice These Things
Paul wrote, “The things which you learned and received and heard and say in me, these do…” Our minds are constantly thinking about something and left to our own devices it is usually something that makes us worry or anxious. Our Heavenly Father knows this and gives us the command to take every one of these thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Put this truth into practice:
- Replace your anxious thoughts of the past and/or the fear of the future with the truth that Christ Jesus is always faithful.
- Replace your sinful thoughts that are not honorable with honorable thoughts of repentance and love for Christ.
- Replace your selfish thoughts with the righteous thoughts of doing the right thing.
- Replace your impure thoughts of the “things of this world” with pure thoughts of love and respect.
- Replace your bitterness and slander with lovely edifying words of encouragement.
- Replace any thought that is not morally pure with the pure words of Scripture.
- Replace your grumblings and complaints with praise and thanksgiving to God.
- Think on these things and put them into practice because the God of peace has promised to be with you. Does that not stir your heart into action?
The Promise of These Things
When you do these things, God makes you a promise. At first glance it seems as if God’s promise is that He will give you His peace. This would be a great promise, but it’s actually better than that. Look closely at verse 9 and you will see that the promise is not that God’s peace will be with you but “the God of peace will be with you.” The two statements are similar but not identical. The promise in verse 9 includes peace, but the focus of the promise is God Himself. Yes, God will give you peace, but He will be with you as you put these things into practice.
When you put this into practice you demonstrate your faith and trust in Jesus. You will never have a joyful, enduring faith if you surrender the fight raging in the battlefield in your mind. If you allow the enemy to run rampant among your thoughts, you will be miserable, resentful, bitter, ineffective, and unfruitful in your service for Christ Jesus. Remember, while you can’t control the birds flying over your head, you can control those that want to land on your head and build nests. Take your thoughts captive, place your trust in Jesus, live for Him, and “the God of peace will be with you.”