I think it was Zig Ziglar who talked a lot about the challenge of overcoming what he called “stinkin’ thinkin’.” He knew what we all know: It is easy to allow our thought processes to spiral downward to the point that we focus only on the negative.
To be sure, there are unpleasant things and people to deal with in life. If we don’t address these, we will eventually regret it. Still, it is easy to allow ourselves to become overly occupied with negativity to the point that we develop a sour disposition. If we don’t take steps to correct this, we are in danger of souring on life itself.
That is why we need to have effective filters for our thoughts to keep them in check so our hearts will remain fully devoted to God. I believe Philippians 4:8 prescribes the very filters we need. We can think of this as a multi-layered filtration process through which all of our thoughts must pass to be deemed appropriate. If a thought won’t pass through one of these layers, then we need to call it what it is — stinkin’ thinkin’! and reject it.
So, the next time you catch yourself spiraling downward in your thoughts it might just be helpful to ask yourself a series of simple questions:
- Is this idea true?
- Is this truly a noble thought?
- Is it right for me to think this way?
- Is this a pure thought?
- If I described what I am thinking, would it make a lovely picture?
- Is this an admirable way to think?
- Will thinking this way lead me or others to excellence?
- Is this a praiseworthy thought?
It’s not rocket science! The questions above could probably be phrased better. But, that’s really not the point, is it? The point resides in the last phrase of the Holy Spirit’s message through Paul. Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy… think about such things.
(c) Bill Williams, a sojourner
April 22, 2015