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Focus your Mind on These Things

Can we all agree that the world is filled with distractions and lies. It is human nature to desire to be entertain and entertainment is more available than never before. Right on your phone you can watch about whatever you feel like watching. From your favor artist, interviews, documentaries, highlights of your favorite sports, politics, video games, pornography, funny videos etc. All of the good, the bad and the ugly is one click away. 

To this reality we add that in our normal lives we have stuff coming our way, issues with family, friends, coworkers, problems, bad news, etc. How can we possibly focus our minds and what should be our focus? Well, it is important that we be able to recognize when our minds are out of focus and, obviously what to focus our minds on. The answer to this question is found specifically in Philippians 4:8,

“…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)

Let’s look at this list in detail:

  1. Whatever is true: We must focus on the true and not be deceit by lies. The Bible tell us that God delights in true (First Corinthians 13:6). Truth is a person; it is the person of Jesus (John 14:6) To focus on truth is to focus on Jesus. 
  2. Whatever is honorable: The word honorable is the Greek word semnós; meaning “To worship, venerate.:[1] The only one worthy of this worship is God. So again, the focus of our minds MUST be on God. He is the only one who is truly honorable.
  3. Whatever is just: This is a focus on the righteousness of God. Our minds MUST be focus on what is right according to God.
  4. Whatever is pure: This is a focus on whatever is holy. Hebrews 12:14 tells us “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (ESV) Focusing our minds on holiness brings us closer to God and it takes our relationship with Him to higher levels. Again, the world has many distraction, Paul is telling us here what to focus our minds on.
  5. Whatever is lovely: The word lovely here is the Greek word prosphilḗs; gen. prosphiloús, masc.–fem., neut. prosphilés, adj. from prós (4314), to, and phíléō (5368), meaning “Friend. Dear to someone, beloved. In the NT, used of things, acceptable, pleasing.”[2] It seems that we must value friendship, but also, by looking at this definition, a focus on things that are acceptable and pleasing to God. I see a perfect balance as if our friends are moving us away from what is acceptable and pleasing to God we must remove them out of our lives. First Corinthians 15:33 tells us, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (ESV) This is not an endorsement on any friendship, but on friendships that keep us focus on what is right, acceptable, and pleasing to the Lord.
  6. Whatever is commendable: This is a focus on what is “…Well–spoken of, of good report, praiseworthy.”[3] The Bible does tell us that “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…” Revelation 12:11 (ESV) It is a powerful and encouraging thing to listen to the testimonies of other believers. So we are not called to filled our minds and lives with the negativism and pessimism of the world, but to be encourage by what God has done with other believers. 
  7. Any excellence: The word excellence has a powerful definition; it is the Greek word aretḗ; meaning “Superiority or being pleasing to God, or the superiority of God revealed in the work of salvation. Aretḗdenotes in a moral sense what gives man his worth, his efficiency. In the NT: virtue, moral excellency, perfection, goodness of action.”[4] Our minds should be focus on moral excellency, goodness and seeking perfection. Even as we know nobody is perfect and nobody will be perfect in this dimension of life; we strive towards perfection. We don’t use our imperfection as an excuse to bring more imperfection and immorality into our lives, but we focus on pursuing that excellence Paul is speaking of here. Are you getting better? Are you changing? We should be getting better, and we should be changing.
  8. Anything worthy of praise: Again, our praise brings us back to focus on God. He is the only one worthy to be praise. Whatever we do we always give him the glory. 

In conclusion, just as a skillful singer and musician knows when they mess up a note, we as believers must be able to recognize, quickly, when we are out of focus. It is a struggle; it is not easy. There are bad thoughts that enter our minds and, it feels they are coming out of nowhere; but they just don’t come out of nowhere. Some are coming from ourselves and some are coming from demons. Either way Jesus tells us,

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5 (ESV)

The focus of this verse is on the thoughts that represent lofty opinions against the knowledge of God… those thoughts we MUST give them to Jesus. The moment these thoughts enter our minds… and they will, we must release them to Jesus and ask HIM to refocus our minds. What we think is of vital importance “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” Proverbs 23:7 (KJV) No matter what comes your way focus your mind on these things…

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[4] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

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