“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philip. 4:8
I regard verses seven through nine of Philippians four to be Paul’s prescription for peace of mind, and by (Inspirational) extension, God’s. Verse seven begins with “…the peace of God,” and verse nine ends with “…the God of peace.” We’re talking about something that goes way past human understanding (v. 7), and is proven out in the Apostle’s own life (v. 9). If anyone was void of all peace, and for good reason, it was Saul of Tarsus. Jesus characterized that blasphemer and Christian killer as a man constantly fighting with himself and his conscience (Acts 9:5). But after he met and was conquered by Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, all that was changed, and now, as I say, we have his prescription for peace of mind.
I have always considered the eight things mentioned in verse eight as desirable “thought patterns” for a believer. But my pastor referred to them recently as “filters,” which opened for me a whole new way of looking at them. They hardly need any explanation in themselves: true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy thoughts. I get it; but life is made up of so many thoughts, good and bad. And they can come so quickly, like an unreturnable volleyball spike. There they are, in your face, at your feet…or in your mind. Now what?
Here’s where the Holy Spirit and my familiarity with the Word of God comes in. When the Spirit of God raises a caution flag within me (and yes, he does!), God has provided these seven “filters” to separate the true from the false, the honest from the dishonest, the just from the unjust, the pure from the impure, the lovely from the ugly, the good report from the bad report, the virtue from the vice, and the praise from the condemnation. Personally, I think these seven “fail-proof filters” should be hidden in our hearts, always ready at the prompting of the Spirit. Memorization would be a first step, I would think.
If you think this is just too much bother, let me share with you something pastor and author, George H. Morrison (1866-1928) has said: “A man will never regulate his passions who has never learned to regulate his thoughts. If we cannot master our besetting thoughts, we shall never master our besetting sins.” I take that seriously…and so should you.