What you think determines your level of anxiety as well as your level of contentment and peace. Your thoughts are both the expression of your heart and the gateway to your heart. Your thoughts direct you to joy or to fear. Your thoughts produce worry or peace, not your circumstances. Your thoughts will lead you to God’s peace. In return, God’s peace will guard your thoughts in a way that surpasses human understanding and frees you from the tyranny worry and fear.
Paul describes how your thoughts guard your heart by bringing God’s peace to you. Note the progression in Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
This is the path to knowing God’s peace. Let’s break this passage down a bit. To know God’s peace, your thoughts should center on things that:
- Faithfully represent God’s truth
- Are worthy of respect and fill your mind with the majestic awe of God
- Center on what is correct and just
- That are pure and morally undefiled
- Are lovely, admirable, appealing and consistent with beauty and grace.
After laying out these guidelines for your thoughts, Paul’s use of the Greek emphatically commands that you use all of your thought energy to constantly “think about such things.” This pursuit produces thought habits that will protect your heart and lead you to know God’s peace. The Holy Spirit wants you to form habits of thought that direct you to peace rather than worry. These are the habits of a healthy heart.
Your thoughts impact your life, your relationship with people close to you and, most significantly, your relationship with God. Isaiah 55 underscores this truth. The wicked are to abandon their thoughts because our thoughts are not God’s thoughts.
God is saying that to know his peace in a dark, troubled world, our thoughts are to be centered continually on those things that are excellent and praiseworthy. Paul is literally saying that God wants us to think his thoughts after him! These are the habits of a healthy heart.
The Holy Spirit is making this pointedly practical. If your thoughts are not focused on the wonder of God’s truth, you will wander into the wasteland of discouragement, anxiety, and worry. God will seem distant and his peace will be like a fading mirage. These unhealthy habits will bring everything but peace and grace.
Does your desire for enjoyment or pleasure or your longing to find relief from the stresses of life move you to think God’s thoughts constantly? Or does the motivation to find relief or pleasure move you away from thinking thoughts that will bring God’s peace?
Eagerly pursue habits of thought that will make your heart a place of health, safety, and peace.