Wednesday, January 5

Keep Right

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. --Philippians 4:8

Every day we make a number of indelible marks on our brains. Without much work, we create conscious and subconscious memories. With that in mind (pardon the pun) it is especially important that we are careful as to how we allow ourselves to be influenced.

Many of you are familiar with the saying: "You are what you eat." In other words, the things we internalize have a way of becoming externally evident. For example, a young man who grown up in a home observing parents who demonstrate an attitude of selfless love and respect, will internalize that information. Later, he will externalize it by living out the same principles in his own marriage relationship.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the church at Philippi, writes that there are a number of things worth internalizing. Things that are true, noble and right. Things that are pure, lovely and admirable. He says that anything that is excellent or praiseworthy is worth thinking about.

By thinking about such things, we internalize them--they become part of our character. If we spend time thinking about things that are contrary to this list Paul outlines, we will outwardly display unlovely, impure, dishonest character traits.

Before we can even begin to naturally think lovely, praiseworthy thoughts, we need to be around lovely, praiseworthy influences. We need to surround ourselves with people who exhibit the very qualities we hope to display. Good influences can be found by spending time with people who have evidence of growing, honest relationships with God.

In addition to making an effort to impact our conscious thoughts, we need to be aware of how our subconscious is being influence. Are the lyrics to the music you listen to similar to the words you think would be spoken by someone of praiseworthy character? Are the photos in the magazine you flip through at the grocery store displaying outward evidence of someone who demonstrates purity? Just because a plot line in a movie may be proclaimed "excellent" by "moviegoers everywhere", would it be proclaimed excellent and praiseworthy in light of God's standards?

Controlling a thought life is indeed quite difficult, but if we do as the road signs say and "keep right" we can stay safely on the path God has for us.

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