My toddler, completely enthralled, was watching his dad clip his toenails and asked: “Do I eat toenails dad?” My husband and I both laughed (after my gag reflex subsided) at this question and let him know that it’s not a good idea to eat toenails. My son’s latest trend is to ask if he can eat various items – and no item is exempted from this question. Sometimes he asks over and over about the same item. He seems to be trying to determine what are good things to put into his body and what are bad. A couple of weeks ago, he was eating a donut and asked: “Is this good for my body, mom?” “No,” I said, “there are better things for you to eat.”
What if we took this approach with our spiritual lives? What if, before we put anything into our bodies or minds, we evaluated it for its goodness, usefulness, or negative effects, then decided whether or not to accept or reject it based on our assessment?
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NKJV)
Wow! Having believed in Jesus for everlasting life, my body is now the temple of the Holy Spirit and my treatment of it either brings glory to God or does not. That’s a big deal! This truth is the polar opposite of how the world tells me to view my body. The world tells us to do what makes us happy, usually aimed at a short-term satisfaction. But God’s Word tells us that our bodies are to be used to bring Him glory. Jesus paid the price for our bodies when He died on the cross and now, He wants us to use them to bring Him glory. This shifts our thinking from self-focus to a purpose much larger than ourselves - bring glory to the One who deserves it.
Paul also said:
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.Philippians 4:8 NKJV
The things that we allow into our bodies and minds - whether food or drink by mouth, viewing them on a screen with our eyes, or listening to them with our ears - these things do influence us. Paul uses the term brethren, which tells us that he’s writing to people who have already believed in Jesus for everlasting life. If believers are being reminded to train their thoughts on these attributes, then it is reasonable to assume that it is possible for believers to be meditating, or thinking, on things which are not true, noble, just, pure, etc.
After reading and thinking about these verses, I began to put them into practice. I started to evaluate the things that I was putting into my body and mind for their value. It became quickly evident that there were things that needed to go. Some things were causing negative effects and that was clearly evident but some things were just wasting time, time that I could have been using to grow and move forward in my abiding relationship with Christ. I’ll give you an example. I LOVE Pinterest. I could spend hours and hours scrolling on Pinterest. Is Pinterest in itself bad? No, but the way that I was wasting hours just scrolling was. I do still use and enjoy Pinterest. But now, I try to keep it in check, in healthy moderation. Removing things that were causing negative effects has helped me, but so has cutting out the useless, time wasters.
Many times in God’s word we’re told what not to do, followed by instruction on what good thought or action ought to replace it. In this case the scripture tells us to meditate, or think on good things, which implies not to think on things that don’t qualify as true, noble, just, pure, etc. So, in this case, we are evaluating the things we spend our time thinking about and replacing the bad or useless things with good things instead.
But Paul doesn’t stop there. He tells us to do as scripture tells us and as he himself demonstrates. So, we’re not just thinking about good things. We are supposed to be doing them as well. Doing good things doesn’t earn us eternal life. We’ve seen from the verse that Paul is talking to brethren, people who have received everlasting life by believing in Jesus for it, apart from the good things they do or have done. So, what good comes of thinking and doing good if it isn’t for salvation from hell?
Paul explained this in Philippians 4: 9 -meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
Notice the outcome of the meditation. If we think on good things and do them, then the God of peace will be with us. This is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment kind of peace, not the everlasting peace we experience that is the result of receiving eternal life by believing in Jesus. That everlasting peace was gifted to us and guaranteed by the promise of God and will last as long as he keeps His promises. I don’t know about you guys, but I want the God of peace to be with me not just in the eternal sense, but also in the momentary sense. I crave peace every minute! Amidst the chaos of life, I desire to have the inner peace that only God can provide.
If you desire the God of peace to be with you, then join me in aiming to think on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, morally excellent, and praiseworthy. But don’t stop there. Let’s follow Paul’s example and do the things we are learning, receiving, and hearing from God’s word.