Just Keep Thinking
In the Disney movie, Finding Nemo, Dory, the beautiful blue Regal Tang (who happens to have short-term memory loss) sings a catchy little tune to encourage Nemo’s dad to “just keep swimming.” Nemo’s dad is ready to give up the search after losing the mask he believes will lead them to his son. The exuberant, though absent-minded, Dory tells him when difficulties come into his life he must “just keep swimming,” rather than giving in to the thoughts of despair that will cause him to quit.
In similar fashion, as Christians, we must be equally diligent to “just keep thinking” on the characteristics described in Philippians 4:8. If we are not so intentional, other kinds of thoughts will capture our attention, leading us to spiritual distraction or despair. Paul had this in mind as he got to the end of Philippians 4:8, saying it is both virtuous and commendable to “…think about these things” – i.e. whatever is true, noble, right and pure. A quick Greek lesson is helpful here. The verb translated “think about” is a command, given in the present tense. In other words, you could over-translate this command “keep on thinking about these things.” Paul knows that an occasional mental reminder about things that are “right,” “noble,” “pure,” etc. is not enough. Other things will quickly drown out such a sporadic effort.
In our last post, we saw that we do not seek to “think on” things that are “pure” so that God will accept us. As sinners, we cannot make ourselves pure enough to be acceptable to God, whose standard is His own holiness (Matt. 5:48). Only by turning away from sin and, by faith, surrendering one’s life to Jesus as Savior and Lord can a person be acceptable to God. However, if we have surrendered our lives to Jesus as Lord, we want to obey Him and grow to be more like Him. Again, this will not happen as a result of half-hearted, occasional spiritual spasms. It requires continuous effort on our part, and enabling on His part, for us to “keep on thinking about these things.”
In running, we have to keep on disciplining ourselves to focus on the goal of faster times or better health. If we become lax in our focus, other things will quickly take priority over our mindset and, eventually, our practice. It only takes one week of “Oh, I’ll exercise again next week” to realize it has been three months since I last worked out. That same kind of spiritual distraction can happen as well. We must, therefore, seek to “keep on thinking” on the things that are “true,” “noble,” “right,” and “pure.” As we do, we will find that God’s Spirit will keep us from being “conformed to the image of this world” as will instead renew our minds (Rom. 12:2).
As you go from day to day, there will be all kinds of thoughts competing for your attention. Keep in mind, however, it is not only important for us to KNOW what God’s Word says and to focus on it, but also to DO what it says as well. The Psalmist asks a question and answers it himself, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word” (Psalm 119:9). James also reminds us that we are to be “doers of the Word and not hearers only,” lest we deceive ourselves (James 1:22). So, “just keep thinking” on these things, asking God to give you the strength to live accordingly! Ultimately, our goal should be living lives that are surrendered to God, thinking on things that remind us of the character and nature of God, which will motivate us to be involved in the mission of God, all for the purpose of bringing glory to God! May we live for such a goal!