What Are You Allowing To Influence You?
When I was in high school, one of my friends gave me a beautiful pink mug with the words from Philippians 4:8 written on it. I loved it as soon as I saw it. This gift has turned out to be one of my absolute favorite mugs. It traveled with me to college and, later on, to my first solo apartment. The pink mug has survived countless moves, and I still drink out of it at least once a week.
I would love to tell you that I love the mug because the verse from the Bible resonates with me spiritually. That the words inspire me as I wake up in the morning. But, to be completely honest, I like the mug because it was a gift from a friend and because it looks cute sitting on my counter.
Most days I just glance at the words without really seeing them, but lately, they’ve begun to catch my attention.
Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.
Since I am an introvert, I constantly have an inner dialogue going through my head. There have been major changes, both good and bad, in my life recently, and the support system that I normally have around me are no longer there. As a result, I’ve noticed a difference in the thoughts that pass through my mind. While I may not be able to control my circumstances, I am responsible for my words and actions.
When we fill our minds with Godly-inspired messages, then our lives begin to reflect those inner thoughts.
Naturally, reading the Bible and spending time in prayer affects our thoughts. Devoting time to reading and studying God’s word through the Bible influences our minds and how we conduct ourselves in the world. Praying gives us time to deeply reflect on our lives, actions, concerns, and hopes, which helps us turn our thoughts to things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable, just as Philippians 4:8 instructs us to do.
Another step to changing our thoughts is to examine the media that we consume. Ideas are presented to us in many forms: books, movies, music, podcasts, YouTube videos, websites, and an ever-evolving list of social media forms. For me, I’ve found that when I listen to uplifting podcasts on my work commute and while working out, I tend to have a better perspective throughout the day.
Besides the media we consume, we also need to think about the real life people that we spend time with. You may not be able to avoid negative people at work, school, or even at home. But, spending time with fellow believers can make a significant difference in your thoughts. Make plans to spend time with people who encourage you to grow in your faith and in your life. Seek out opportunities that put you in contact with other Christians. If you can’t physically be around people whose beliefs strengthen your own, then make it a point to call someone who inspires you.
It can be easy to overlook the importance of filling our minds with thoughts that are good, and we cannot control every single one of the different, conflicting messages that we come into contact with every single day. But, we have to be aware that how we think impacts what we say and do.
What are you allowing to influence your thoughts?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elizabeth is an educator at heart. So far this has taken the form of a camp counselor, a museum assistant, and currently a middle school teacher. She loves to watch people grow and learn. You can read more of her writing at her blog Chronicles of a Southern Belle.