“Whatever is …. noble…think on these things” (Php 4:4).
Mark Twain wrote, “What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself. All day long, the mill of his brain is grinding, and his thoughts, not those other things, are his history.” (Reader’s Digest [1/93], p. 155).
It has long been noted that the power of our thoughts are the hidden but driving force behind our actions and feelings. ‘Change our thoughts and we change the world.’
Paul exhorts us to think on the things that are noble. “Noble” means that which is honorable. Something honorable is something that is good beyond the normal.
One is honorable who has done a great act or deed, one who is selfless, one who lives in service for others. An honorable person is one who has done things and is a person worthy of respect.
We are to think on those things that are honorable. So what does that look like?
First of all there are many things that dishonorable, disrespectful and not noble that are right in our face all day. Just turn on the news and you will hear endless slander, arguments, accusations and more. And most will blame the other party or news station for this behavior but that’s a lie.
At any workplace there are also many things daily in our face that our dishonorable. Complaints about how things are done, murmuring about what other are people are doing, and overall discontent.
And there are dishonorable things in our mind. There’s a grumbling about other people or situations, a mental processing of dislike for the behavior of other’s, even complaints to the Lord about our situations.
We are saturated in dishonor and ignoble thinking. And so was Paul who wrote this statement. I can’t imagine that too many people in prison spoke good, wholesome words, thought kind things about their guards, or found something to be grateful for when they were in chains in filth.
So it’s not our circumstances that lead us to live out this truth. It’s our ability to be intentional. Without intentionality, our thoughts will conform to that which is around us.
Think on noble and honorable things we are told.
Honorable things are seeing and taking notice when someone does something good. Thinking on noble things is thinking on how we can serve others. Having thoughts of respect requires seeing the jewels and treasure in a person and not just the dirt that covers that precious material.
If someone hooked up a loudspeaker to our thoughts and every thought we had was broadcast to others, what would these thoughts be? Would they be honorable? Of course not. That’s why Paul had to write these things.
Training our thoughts to see what is honorable and respectful and dignified takes work. But when we see these things we will see that they are around us all day every day.
It is seen at church when one person takes time to introduce someone to someone else. It is seen in the home when a kind word or deed is given to another. It is seen when believers in places of persecution find prisons as palaces and places of worship (see previous post).
There are many honorable and noble things in this life. We must clear out the mud in our eyes, and begin to see.
Let us think on these things.