Line of thought

thinking-277071_640Ecclesiastes 5:20: For he will often consider the years of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart.

Amidst the exploration of the theme of futility, the preacher points out some things that give some respite in the sea of nothingness in the world. The focus verse speaks about being occupied with gladness. The kind of selective amnesia that is good for mental health, in which more premium is put on what is good than what is not.

Paul said it this way: whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4:8).

True

If it is true, it means it is the conclusion that Jesus himself would have come to. This is in opposite of lies. And the devil is called the father of lies (John 8:44), Jesus is called the truth (John 14:6); and our thoughts show where we stand for truth.

We should not be scheming on how we should tell lies or tell half truth. For thoughts to be about things that are true means they are focused on the plans of God for us, how God sees us and thing else.

We would be disobeying what Paul recommends for our thought process when we begin to entertain thought concerning ourselves different from what God says about us.

Paul wrote to the Romans that they should not think of themselves more highly than they ought (Romans 12:1-3). That means there is a way you ought to think about yourself. At every junction we need to think about what we think about, examine our thought about ourselves and refuse to allow anything to define us except the word of God. That is a source of gladness in our heart.

John refused to have anyone’s prejudices or expectation define him. When he was baptising people in river Jordan he had visitors from the Pharisees, who did not submit to his ministry, but came questioning him. They asked him: are you the Christ? He said no, and followed that up by defining himself by the word of God. Quoting Isaiah he said: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make plain the way of the Lord. That is the truth about his identity (John 1:19-23). You need to constantly reflect on your spiritual identity as you see generally in the scriptures and as God reveals to personally in your ears.

Honourable

Honourable means something worthy of being copied. Because the thought life is private, that gives the opportunity for all manners of dishonourable thing to fester there. (We must not permit this. We should take on the responsibility of being gatekeepers to our thought lives.)

This is the forte of the hypocrite, which Jesus describes as having the outside clean but the inside is full of dead men bones (Matthew 23:27). That have the image of rightness, but there is deadness, rot, inside. They look honourable outside, dressing well, but inside they are the opposite. They have a good public persona that does not line up with their thoughts life.

Just

This is about coming to the right conclusion, reflecting a good sense of judgement. We should all strive for this, as God has given us the Spirit of sound mind (2Timothy 1:6-7). We come to conclusions in the absence of sentiments, prejudices, chauvinism or racism. We do not It is not saying the guilty is innocent or the innocent is guilty (Proverbs 17:15), aligning our thoughts with the principle of fairness. With that we reflect God in our inner life.

Pure

Pure means fully representing God. David prayed that the thoughts of his heart will be acceptable to God (Psalms 19:14). He had that as the standard he holds himself to. We should have no less a standard. It should be all about the Father and pleasing him. It is ridiculous to think God does not know what we are thinking about.

Pure means to free of corruption. The bible says: blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8). Jesus says that thoughts coloured adultery, fornication, and sexual impropriety are not acceptable to God (Matthew 5:27-28).

Lovely

For our thoughts to be lovely means it is coloured with joy. There are dark thoughts, these are thoughts of depression. God has promised to give the garment of praise in place of the spirit of heaviness (Isaiah 61:3). The spirit of heaviness manifests in dark thoughts, thought that tends towards suicide, undue self-recrimination.

Paul said that we should be renewed in the spirit of our mind (Ephesians 4:23). That is, rather than have thoughts that tend towards sinning; we would have thoughts that tends towards righteousness, thoughts that are marked by God’s purpose, marked by making the right decisions, taking the right steps.

With a wrong spirit working on our mind, we would not even see where we should go; it will be confusion and wrong conclusions, decisions, making ugly, unwise rather than lovely decisions that yield lovely results.

Commendable

Commendable thoughts are those which align with making progress, not drawing back. They are thoughts concerning making progress, both personally and collectively in the kingdom of God. It was commendable for Paul to always think off how he will advance in the knowledge of Jesus (Philippians 3:8-10).

Paul spoke of Timothy to a church, saying that there is none one who will naturally care for their state, but the rest seek their own things, not the things of the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:19-21).

It means Timothy cared for the things of the kingdom of God. In his thoughts he seeks first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33). These are the kind of people who will receive the divine commendation: well done good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21).

Excellence

Thinking of things that are excellent is about having goals and setting objectives that are high, laudable and excelling, in all spheres of life: family, business, ministry etc. Think of how things can be better rather than how bad they can be or have been.

The complainers, the gossiper, the mockers do not have excellent thoughts. The man described in Psalm 1 does not associate with the sinners, mockers, or the scornful, he mediates on the excellent words of God, and so he excels.

Praise

If it is worthy of praise, it expresses the praise of God. Paul said we should be so full of the words of Christ that we bubble with praise to God all the time (Colossians 3:16). We should be fixated in praising God. When we think of Christ and the sacrifice he made for us, it will be all praises.

The psalmist said: bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name; He redeemed your soul from destruction, who heals your diseases (Palm 103:1-5). What we have from Christ is restoration. Thinking of the manifold grace of God given to us through Jesus Christ, Paul exclaimed, how magnificent our God is, how unsearchable his wisdom (1Timothy 1:15-17).

Thinking of the help we have received from God, and the future help we will receive should fill us with overflowing gladness (Psalm 20). David wrote that God has put gladness in his heart more that what increase in material things does for others (Psalm 4:7).

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