Regular visitors to this blog can tell you that the guiding principle behind everything I write is the non-negotiable fact that the Bible is true from beginning to end. While I understand that many do not agree with me, this is the position from which I write.
Our ongoing series, A Refreshing Pause, deals with meditation and has been based since the first post on Biblical principles, which I have sought to draw out of various passages contained in the Scriptures. For some time now, I have hinted at an upcoming post dealing with the content of meditation, but put it off until completion of the posts dealing with specific examples of those who learned the power of a pause to think and rest.
Recent events, however, have caused me to change my plan and revisit this matter of content. Just a little over a month ago, the Newtown, Connecticut shooting rocked the nation as another man with a gun burst in on helpless children and school employees, killing 26 before taking his own life. There are hundreds of articles on the Net concerning the man’s mental state, etc., so I will not revisit that here. What I would like to point out is the fact that many–if not all–of the reports state that he spent hours in front of a television screen playing exceedingly violent video games. While this cannot be cited as the only cause of what he did, I propound that it most likely contributed.
I mentioned in an earlier post that my definition of meditation was not the transcendental, “clear-your-mind-of-conscious-thought” variety espoused by so many Eastern religions. I most definitely believe that there are certain things one should think about while meditating. However (and I shall prove this point in this post), that does not mean there are not things that should be purged from our minds as we meditate. By necessity, the things about which one thinks mandate that there are other things about which one should not think.
Nearly two thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Philippi. As with his other epistles, the letter contains a variety of information, advice, and sound doctrine to encourage the church to stand fast in the good work begun. Even a casual reading will reveal “rejoicing,” to be the key theme of the book. A concurrent theme is “pressing toward the mark.” So Paul is encouraging these believers to rejoice, stand firm, and press forward.
In the midst of the fourth chapter, Paul includes a verse that holds an important truth for us in our current study. In verse 8 of chapter 4, Paul writes:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (1)
Paul lays it out in plain and simple language: here’s the types of things that should dominate your thinking.
“…whatsoever things are true…” There are so many things this condition rules out. Gossip, slander, backbiting, libel, fallacious reports circulated as truth, lying, shading the truth…all these things are to be purged from our thinking.
Imagine how much pain and suffering would be avoided if people really grasped the importance of sticking with just the truth, just the facts, in their daily conversations. What a difference it would make!
Paul’s list continues:
“…whatsoever things are honest…” Ok, so he just mentioned truth…why throw honesty in there as well? A good definition of honest is as follows:
honorable in principles, intentions, and actions; upright and fair: an honest person. Showing uprightness and fairness: honest dealings. Gained or obtained fairly: honest wealth. Sincere; frank: an honest face. Genuine or unadulterated: honest commodities. (2)
This definition shows us that there is a lot more to honesty than we might at first think. Even the first sentence, “honorable in principles, intentions, and actions…” can help us narrow down significantly the scope of things to ponder.
Paul’s list goes on.
“..whatsoever things are just…” To be just is to be guided by truth, reason, principle and fairness; or, in keeping with truth or fact: that is, true or correct. So, not only are we to evaluate our thoughts based on truth and honor, but now factual reality is brought into the equation!
Wow…that’s a lot to think about, isn’t it?
Paul’s list goes on, but we’ll hold off on further enumeration until next time. Here’s a challenge for you: for the next two weeks, strive to consciously evaluate your thoughts based on the three principles outlined above. Ask yourself: Is it true? Is it honest–does it pass a smell test for genuineness? Is it just–is this guided by reason, truth, principle and fairness?
I imagine you’ll be surprised at the results.
Something to think about,