Throughout this Thanksgiving week I will briefly unpack a concept that I like to call “Thanks-living.” We’ll see what this kind of life entails for every child of God in three primary areas of living out our Christian faith: what we think, what we do, and what we say. I am only going to focus on one verse of Scripture for each topic; I encourage you to find others that will strengthen your Thanks-living for God’s glory and for the good of others.
Today we’ll look at the thought life of Thanks-living:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
You won’t find any of what I call “stinking-thinking” in that command from God! Notice that I said command. This is as much a command from God as any of the ten that were inscribed by the finger of God on the tablets of stone and given to Moses on Mount Sinai. Here the apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, described the thought life of those who are committed to Thanks-living . . . regardless of the cost or circumstance.
I say “regardless of the cost or circumstance” because Paul did not qualify this divine imperative with words like, “Think such thoughts when all is going well in your life—when the sky is blue and the clouds are fleecy and the sun is shining brightly.” He simply said that we are to think about such things as a way of Thanks-living before the face of God.
Paul explained that the only way that this Thanks-living will be a mark in the life of the Christian is to keep our thoughts focused on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. And what will stimulate such thoughts? Where will we be exposed to these qualities? Not in the newspaper . . . not in magazines . . . not in movies or music . . . certainly not on television or the Internet! This kind of thinking will only be found and forged by being immersed in the Word of God. The only way we will think God’s thoughts after Him is to know God’s thoughts; and the only way to know God’s thoughts is to read, study, and marinate in His true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable Word.
So . . . how are you doing in the area of thinking? How much time are you spending in God’s Word each day? Each week? Each month? Remember, the book you don’t read won’t help you, and that truism most definitely includes the Bible. God’s Word is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating our very soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12), but it will not have that effect in the lives of those who do not read it!
I can tell you that one of the best things we have done as a new church is to read through the Bible in one year as a church family. My beloved friend, brother, and Greek professor, Dr. Sam Lamerson, has been walking us through the Bible since the beginning of this year during Sunday school class. The comments from everyone have been so encouraging! This has been just the “push” they needed to stay grounded in the Word of God.
Perhaps this message today is that gentle and providential “push” for you too. Make no mistake; Thanks-living thinking will only happen when we are very intentional about what we put in to our minds.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!