Fillings Our Minds
What Are You Dwelling On?
Fill your minds with beauty and truth.
Philippians 4:8 (The Voice)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, 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. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me-practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8-9 (ESV)
Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable – if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise –
dwell on these things.
Philippians 4:8 (HCSB)
Welcome back to the kitchen table! This week we will examine what it means to “fill our minds”. Paul instructs us in Philippians 4:8 to fill our minds, think, or dwell on these things. Regardless of the translation these are all same word in the original language. Take a look:
dwell on – logizomai – to take an inventory, to estimate, to reckon, calculate, count over, meditate on. This word deals with reality. This word refers to facts not suppositions.
Dwell -The reality is, dwelling is part of what we do as women. Dwelling involves taking an inventory, reckoning and meditating.
What do your daily “dwelling sessions” look like?
Mine usually involves something like this: I turn it round & round, looking at all the angles of the “what ifs” and “if onlys” – rehearsing it, calculating and contemplating, until it consumes me! This kind of dwelling session enslaves us and manifests itself as worry, doubt, anxiety and insecurity. Here is more of Lori’s story as she shares one of her “dwelling sessions”:
Around the time Blair was to be discharged from the hospital to a nursing care facility for rehab, I was invited to participate in a weekend retreat with a small group of friends from our church. My mind was in a constant swirl about the past, the present, and what the future might hold. I would dwell on what life used to be like and I wanted to go back to what I considered to be “normal.” Then I would think about the difficulties of what I would need to deal with when I left the safety of the retreat. And, of course, I obsessed about what our future might hold: What would Blair be like? What would I do if he only recovered by 50%? How would this affect our relationship? How would this affect our daughters? Would we even be able to pay our bills? What about our plans for the future?
During one of our evening sessions at the retreat, a young man who I knew pretty well had a poem he wanted to share with the group. He said that God had inspired him to write this poem earlier in the week and felt that it was meant for someone in the group that was gathered there that evening. His poem was entitled, “Rest” and explained how much our Father wants us to lay aside our burdens and worries in order to experience the peace and love that come only from His presence. I’m sure there were others in the group that benefited from that poem, but I knew that it was meant for me. It wasn’t just the words of that poem that changed my life, it was also the realization that God cared enough about me to inspire a poem and make sure I was there to hear those words. I believe that the true knowledge of God’s love and the acknowledgment of the truth of any situation is the key to “really living.” In my life, I have seen that embracing love and truth can free us in the present and actually protect us in the future from the fear and anxiety that sometimes plagues us and at times can even immobilize us as women.” -Lori Fink
God’s desire is not for us to fixate on the circumstance or relationship that is troubling us until we are a meltdown mess. His desire is for us to evaluate and respond to those things that occupy our thoughts through the lens of truth.
As I would rehearse my troubles to a friend, she would always say, “But the reality is . . .”
The reality is always where the truth lies. And yes, sometimes the truth is not pretty or comfortable. Sometimes the truth can be terrifying. But the truth also contains the fact that God is good and He loves me, some days that is all that kept me going. Oh yeah and taking every thought captive and examining it for truth. -Lori Fink
Truth – things that are true is the first in the list that Paul exhorts us to dwell on. This word in the original language is alethes meaning true, real, conformed to the reality of things, loving the truth and not concealing. It is a word that denotes the reality of a thing. That is just what Lori was talking about-getting to the bottom of things! Wading through our fears and feelings to get to the reality of the truth.
Now this does not mean we are to live in denial, putting on our Pollyanna smiles and pretty masks. It simply means we can honestly and openly come before our God and pour out our hearts to Him. (Psalm 62:8). He is our safe place to express and unload all that talk going round in our heads. Once we’ve unloaded, vented, ranted and raved -and yes it is okay to rant and rave before our God, He is big enough to handle it – once we’ve “got it off our chest”, then our “dwelling” needs to take on a different focus. Look at the definition for dwell again. It states that this wordrefers to facts, not suppositions. We need to turn our attention to dwelling on the facts. So how do we determine what is true? How do we sort out the facts from our feelings?
Truth is found in the unchanging character of God, in the truth of His Word and what HE says is true of us. We need to remind ourselves, rehearse, and dwell on the truths of His Word, regardless of what the world or our circumstances are screaming.
Philippians 4:8 gives us a list of things to “dwell on” and the filter through which we should examine our situation.We can examine our situation and ask:
- What is true?
- What is honorable?
- What is just?
- What is pure?
- What is lovely?
- What is commendable?
- What is excellent?
- What is worthy of praise?
And perhaps the specifics of that situation make it difficult to find any of the above! But the truth, the reality, is God is good! He brings good out of even the most difficult situations. And when our eyes are focused on Him, we can see what is true, honorable, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise because
HE IS all of those things! I love Lori’s realization and affirmation that some days this truth is all that kept her going!
The truth that HE IS causes us to change our perspective and with a renewed perspective we can ask, “How might I respond in a way that is … true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of bringing God praise?”
Finally, Paul follows his exhortation to dwell with an instruction to do.
Do – look at this word in the original language:
do – prasso – to practice, to perform repeatedly or habitually
Over and over and over again, we remind ourselves and rehearse the truth of who God is, what He has done for us and who He says we are in Christ Jesus. We are to dwell on the truth of who God is and what His Word teaches us.
So go ahead and get busy – dwell and do! AND “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding willguard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus…and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:7, 9
See you next week at the kitchen table as we examine what it means to embrace beauty in our daily lives.
P.S. – Click here for a list of verses that are great “dwelling session” material.
Susan Cady is a Women of Warren Bible Study teacher and a speaker for All For His Glory Ministries. To read more devotionals from Susan visit her website.