The thoughts that fill your head will affect how you live your life. How you think will determine not only how you act, but also how you see the world. What you think will define your outlook and who you will be.
You may not even be aware of the thoughts that you meditate on. They may come into your head and you may not even realize what is in your mind. But what takes residence in your mind will affect who you are and what you do.
The Scripture says you should take every thought captive and compare it to what Scripture says (2 Corinthians 10:5). So it’s important that you think about what you think about.
Using Philippians 4:8 as a template, here is an eight-point checklist for considering what you consider.
1. Is it the truth?
Before you consider anything, it’s best to determine if it is true. Be willing to put it through a truth filter. It’s not worth your time or your brain space if it’s not true.
If it’s gossip or hearsay about someone, it can poison your outlook about that person. Don’t let someone else’s agenda determine your relationships with others.
Even if an idea just pops into your head, don’t accept it as truth. Make sure you check out its veracity—or at least be willing to set it aside until it’s confirmed. You can’t believe everything you think.
Be willing to check the facts about what you assume you know.
2. Is it honoring?
Are the thoughts that you think honoring toward others? Or are you thinking things that are dishonoring toward others?
Do you assume the best of others? Or do your thoughts immediately assume the worst about others? Even if you have been victimized in the past, always thinking the worst of others will not give you an accurate outlook.
What thoughts do you have about those in authority over you? Do you believe they could be trying to do the right thing? Or do you assume they are out to get you?
Be willing to assess how you are assessing others.
3. Is it fair?
Review the thoughts you have in your head and determine if your outlook is fair.
Give others the benefit of the doubt. Be willing to look at them with an open mind. What goes around will come around.
The judgment you use on others will be used on you. If you point out what’s wrong in someone else’s life, it’s very possible that it’s in your life as well. Do not be a hypocrite when you judge others (Matthew 7:2-5).
Treat them the way you would want them to treat you (Matthew 7:12).
4. Is it pure?
Decide to put thoughts into your mind that will focus on the positive. There are many thoughts that you could consider that will drag you down. Instead put thoughts into your head that will build you up.
The people you hang around, the things you read, the shows you watch, and the music you listen to can all influence your outlook. What you allow into your mind will influence how your mind processes other information.
You can decide to create a virtuous cycle or a vicious cycle with your thoughts. Like begets like. You get to choose what kind of person you will become.
5. Will it build better friendships?
People are made to be in relationship with others. Because people are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). As the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is in relationship, so should you be.
Do your thoughts draw you closer to others? Or do your thoughts pull you away from others?
An outlook that causes division is not of God. If the thoughts you have about someone else make you want to stay away from them, then those may be thoughts that you want to flush.
6. Is it commendable?
Is this a thought that you would be proud to share with others? Or is it a thought that you would rather not want to be attributed to you?
If you would be happy to be quoted as having this thought, then that’s something worth dwelling on. If it’s a thought that you would be embarrassed to have, then you can change the channel. You don’t have to think it anymore.
Your outlook is yours for the making. Decide wisely what you allow to take root in your mind.
7. Does it bring out the best in you?
Do the thoughts you think continue to make you better? Are you intentionally making yourself into the person you want to be by the thoughts you think?
Are you able to catch yourself when you think a thought that isn’t what you want to think? And are you able to reinsert a thought you’d rather focus on?
Choose your outlook carefully. It will make you the person you will be.
8. Will it be beneficial to others?
Do your thoughts benefit those around you? Are you giving life to others?
Do others want to be around you because you help them think better thoughts? Are you helping others become better than they are?
The thoughts you think can spill over into others so that they can see a better way. You can enable them to catch hold of the way you think. You can help them improve their outlook and improve themselves.
Will you choose to think thoughts that will build you up and build others up?
The choice is up to you.
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