Whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].—Philippians 4:8b
Some people are very unhappy, and they have been that way so long that they no longer realize there is another option. I can well remember being like that. I blamed my unhappiness on the way others behaved. I thought my husband and children caused me the most unhappiness. If they would change and just be a little more sensitive to my needs, I knew I’d feel better. If they would help around the house more, volunteer to run errands, or just ask how I was doing, I knew I’d be happy. Of course, I never said anything to them. If they were sensitive and caring, I thought, they would be able to see how they could help me and make my life easier. I did pray about it, and I often told God how much happier I would be if they cooperated more, but they didn’t change.
One day, God spoke to me—but not with the words I wanted to hear. He said, “Think about what you are thinking about. “ I had no idea what God meant. In fact, the words didn’t make sense. How could I think about what I was thinking about?
Then I realized the truth. My mind raced from one thought to another. That was bad enough, but worse, my thoughts centered around myself and my needs. I had thought that if they—the other people in my life—changed, I would be happy. I finally reluctantly admitted that even if they changed, I’d find something else to be unhappy about. I was just unhappy and didn’t need any particular reason. It was first one thing and then another.
As I pondered my condition, I thought of Philippians 4:8, where Paul presented a list of the kind of things we need to focus on. If God did not want me to think about the things I was thinking about, I first needed to know what I should think about. I soon realized I had a lot to learn. Although I had been attending church for years, I could not remember anyone ever telling me how important my thoughts were to God and to my quality of life.
If we concentrate our thoughts on good things—the kind of things Paul mentioned in that verse—we will be built up. We will grow spiritually and become strong in the Lord.
As I continued to meditate on God’s message, I realized how my thoughts affected my attitude—and this is true of all of us. God tells us to do things that are for our good. He wants us to be happy and fulfilled. If we want happiness and fulfillment, we must find it God’s way. If we’re full of wrong thoughts, we’re miserable. That’s not a theory—that’s spoken from my own experience and is found in God’s Word. I’ve also learned that when we’re miserable, we usually end up making others around us miserable, too.
Since those days, I’ve made it a practice to take a regular inventory of my thoughts. I review the way I think. What have I been thinking about? I ask myself.
I stress this because—as I learned from my own experience—¬Satan deceives us into thinking that the source of our misery or pain is other people or sometimes our situations. He tries not to let us face the fact that our own thoughts are the source of our unhappiness. I would venture to say that it is practically impossible to be happy while maintaining negative, critical, depressing thoughts.
We need to overcome Satan in this area of the battle for our thoughts, and God will help us if we ask Him to.
Dear Lord Jesus, I have determined to think about the things I have been thinking about. I admit that my thoughts are the source of any unhappiness that I experience and not other people. I also know that the source of my victory is in You, and in Your name, I ask You to give me greater victory as I monitor my thoughts through the help of the Holy Spirit. Amen.