And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. (NLT)
Mind control or thought control has a sinister implication. Someone, somewhere, is trying to manipulate us or brainwash us. But it need not be so threatening. In our text, we are urged to focus on what is good and right rather than on what is harmful or wrong. It doesn’t mean we disregard unpleasant realities. It means we don’t dwell on them. It is one thing to acknowledge the darkness: it is another thing to live in it.
This might involve a more selective reading of the news, a more careful choice of what we watch and hear. It can even mean taking care not to spend too much time with those who will drag us into the shadows by gossip or a critical spirit. It is a bit like someone who is on a diet choosing not to linger in a cake shop.
It is so easy to be swamped by all the bad things that happen, to become preoccupied with all that is wrong with other individuals or the church or the family….or even oneself. Of course we recognise all that is wrong, but we make a choice not to let that shape our thoughts and actions. We choose to look for the good even as we acknowledge the not so good. Amidst the darkness, we choose to look for and be thankful for even the smallest pinpricks of light. This results in God’s presence giving us peace even when things aren’t very peaceful.
Wrong thought patterns won’t help us be at peace. If our minds are in the sewers, then nothing smells any good.
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