“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.”
In this verse, we find a catalog of thinking for developing a proper mental attitude. This is the fourth and last principle for the correction of personal conflict. The first principle focuses the mind on the Lord rather than people (v. 4). The second principle–pliability and flexibility in non-principle areas—is crucial to incorporate different viewpoints into one group (v. 5). The third principle presents the problem to God in prayer, so the anxiety of uncertainty does not negatively invade relationships (vv. 6, 7).
Every day thousands of images bombard the modern person, whether through TV, radio, social media, newspaper, billboard advertising, store displays, or personal experience. Each day of our lives, those images seek to reassess values.
Media daily asks us to reevaluate homosexuality as an acceptable way of life. They ask us to accept abortion as an admissible norm. Vast numbers of people in the North Americas view premarital and extramarital sex as normal. More subtle values fly at Christians, such as the right to retaliate and place oneself as number one.
In the light of this assault, Paul argued for the believer to countervail those images with divine content.
“Finally” points to the last principle for the resolution of discord. By displacing unworthy thoughts with God thinking, a person disengages from strife. As we think on worthy objects, our attitude changes into a God-honoring orientation.
Six “whatever” follow. All are in the plural. That indicates several categories reside under each “whatever.” These six things and anything else within their categories are things about which God endorses us to think.
The principle of displacement means that we fight fire with fire. It is not enough to cast out wrong thinking from our minds. If we reject a thought by sheer will, it will come back when we stop exercising our will. The mind cannot stand a vacuum. It will always draw something into it, good or evil. If we do not structure God’s thoughts into our thinking, thoughts counter to God will direct our thinking. If we displace the world’s thoughts with God’s thoughts, we take on a new orientation. That new orientation is an attitude. We form God’s frame of reference or bearing about things.
This passage says we are to think about true, noble, just, pure, lovely, good report and virtue, and praiseworthy.
The principle of displacement means that we replace our thinking with God’s thinking and are controlled by God’s viewpoint.
What volume of thought do you give to God’s viewpoint on life? Is your mind controlled by God’s thinking and values?
“How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word…
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
that I might not sin against You.”