mindFinally, brothers, 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 ESV).

One thing that distinctly makes you, who you are, is the way in which you think. One necessary characteristic of an authentic Christian is that he has the mind of Christ.

For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:11-16 NIV)

One day, my four year old came crying to me saying, “Mummy, I am scared of monsters.” I assured her there were no monsters, but she said, “I keep thinking about monsters.” I asked her to stop thinking about monsters and she cried all the more saying, “I can’t stop thinking about them, I think of them all the time.” I then told her that she is surrounded by angels. They watch over her and protect her and let no monsters come near her. I then told her that whenever she has a thought about monsters she must instead think about the lovely angels that watch over her. She stopped crying and was happily playing unafraid of monsters.

It’s amazing to know that when I told her to stop thinking about monsters, she thought about them all the more. However, when I suggested to replace the monster thoughts with angels, she did it and it worked. You may be struggling with thoughts in similar ways. When you want to stop thinking about certain things you end up thinking about them all the more. The trick is to replace the wrong thought with the right one, because you cannot think of two thoughts at the same time. As the famous saying goes, ‘You cannot keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.’

The challenge is to discern between right and wrong. A simple question one must ask themselves is this: Is this thought pleasing and glorifying God? If not, then that thought needs to be replaced with the one that is pleasing to God. Philippians 4:8 gives a guideline to think the right thought: Is the thought true, honourable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise? Only God’s word sums up all these qualities and so if your thinking does not align with the word of God, then it lacks the above attributes.

You will have challenges every day to think the right thoughts. Remember a journey begins with a single step. Your life is transformed with every single thought. When you face bitterness, anger, frustration and despair, you have a choice to replace it with forgiveness, peace, hope and joy. You cannot be bitter and forgiving at the same time, nor can you be angry and peaceful at the same time. You have a choice, therefore choose your thoughts carefully.

When your mind is set on pleasing God and doing what is right, you will notice that righteous thinking changes your circumstances, and most of all, it changes you. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:2 NIV)