Focusing Our Minds

by Robert D. McLaughlin, Christian Counselor

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Where can we go in the Bible to find guidelines to help keep our minds clean and in good mental health? In Philippians 4:8, we find the following verse: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (KJV). Let's examine this verse.

In the first phrase, we are to dwell on things that are true. How many times do we turn our attention away from something untruthful, or do we just sit and take it in along with the rest of what we observe? It's our responsibility to divert our attention from untruths, to stand up for what is right. The truth of the Gospel must be proclaimed in our lives.

The second phrase is about honesty. Do you associate with honest people? Do you practice honesty with your family, friends, and co-workers? Do you allow deceit to creep into your life? If we are not diligent about having honest dealings in our life, we place ourselves in jeopardy of compromising our witness, and not allowing God work in our lives in the way that He wants.

The word just in the third phrase deals with being fair or impartial. When we are with others, are we fair and impartial? Are there some that we deal with that we treat with less respect, less dignity, than others? Jesus demonstrated the importance of being just when He dealt with the Samaritan woman. In the parable of the Good Samaritan He taught us to view all people in the same manner. Refer to John 3:16 to find out who He came to save and who He wouldn't save.

Webster's dictionary defines pure as "clear, clean, free from foreign matter." Is our speech clean, do we live a clean life before others, do we have impure things in our lives that should not be there? If we can't say this, then we aren't living up to this part of the verse.

When it comes to lovely, do we look for the beautiful aspects of something, do we look for the beautiful aspects of others? Often, we don't look for the good in people, we look for something bad in others. We need to look for the positive in others, whether they are Christian or not. When was the last time that we gave a good report about someone? When was the last time that someone could give a good report about us? Almost half of the times that the phrase "good report", is used in the Bible, it is about a specific person living a life worthy of a "good report." Our lives are to be examples of righteous living. A definition of virtue usually includes "morality." Do we listen to and view things that are moral? Do we live moral lives?

The last thing we are to think on is whatever is worthy of praise. Praise does not always come easily, whether we are giving God praise, praising someone else, or allowing others to praise us. It can involve work to listen to others being praised without bringing attention to ourselves!

How does all of this relate to good mental health? For those who are depressed, it is quite common for a therapist to recommend that the depressed person purposefully do kind things for others. This takes their attention away from themselves and onto others, as God has prescribed for us. Anxiety is often produced by excessive worrying about things, many times things we cannot control. If we take this verse to heart, we will find God working in our lives, and less worry entering our lives. By eliminating both of these problems from our lives, we have eliminated the majority of reasons that people seek help from mental health professionals. We also find ourselves living more productive Christian lives.

First printed in The American Night Watch Newsletter, Volume IV, Part 2, February 1996.

Copyright 1999 Robert D. McLaughlin. All Rights Reserved.

The American Night Watch is a trademark of the Christian ministry of Sterling M. Durgy.

Permission is granted to reprint this article as long as the copyright is included, this statement is included, and the article is not sold to the recipients.

Click here for Robert McLaughlin's e-mail address.

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This page was last updated October 22, 1999.