Finally, brothers, 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me– put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)
Sometimes we experience emotions such as sadness and discouragement, not because God has failed us, but because we have allowed ourselves to think negative thoughts. Sometimes we find ourselves doing sinful things, not because the power of Satan has been too great for us to resist, but because we have allowed sinful thoughts to linger in our minds. Sometimes we find ourselves being cold and indifferent in our spiritual walk, not because the things of God are not important, but because we have neglected to do them.
Consider Paul’s two simple steps to finding spiritual success:
1) We Must Fill Our Minds With the Right Kind of Thoughts
Too often we allow ourselves to think thoughts that are negative or sinful. We fill our minds with these thoughts and then we wonder why we act the way we do. I am not sure who first said this, but it is very powerful –
“We sow our thoughts, and we reap our actions;
we sow our actions, and we reap our habits;
we sow our habits, and we reap our characters;
we sow our characters, and we reap our destiny.”
Notice that our destiny is determined by our thoughts. Therefore, Paul tells us to think only about what is admirable, excellent and praise worthy.
2) We Must Do What We Know is the Right Thing to Do
Paul writes – ‘Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me– put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.’
Many of you have heard me share the story concerning the night when I finally yielded to God’s call for me to become a pastor. For years I had been struggling with the decision, questioning whether or not God was calling me and whether or not I could do what needed to be done. Back and forth I went until one Sunday night I heard a sermon on James 4:17, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” Suddenly I realized that the only way to do God’s will is to do God’s will. The only way for me to start being obedient was to start being obedient. Or as NIKE puts it – Just do it!
Though we sometimes think that the Christian life is deep and difficult, in reality it isn’t. To be a successful Christian we simply need to think the right thoughts and to do the right things.