Today’s Saturday, and you are expecting a friend over. She should be here any minute. You keep looking out the window to see if her car is coming up the driveway. All of a sudden, you hear a knock at the door, and you rush toward it. It might be your friend, but it might not. You haven’t seen her car yet. So what do you do next? Do you open the door? Or do you first look to see who knocked?
When someone knocks on the front door, we will usually look to see who it is before letting them in. Our home is our personal space. Our door is the guard, the checkpoint that allows us to determine who can enter—and who cannot. If we choose, we will open the door and invite the person inside. We tend not to invite strangers, salesmen, or people we deem dangerous into our homes. However, if the person who knocks is someone who belongs in our personal space, we usually will gladly open the door and let them enter.
Think of your mind in the same way. It is the most intimate personal space you have, and its sphere of influence is your entire being. Just as the heart pumps blood to the entire body, so the thoughts that originate in the mind affect all aspects of us: mental, spiritual, social, and—yes—even physical. Many thoughts are good. They bring life to us and to our relationships with other people and with God. But many other thoughts are harmful. They infect our relationships and lead us to think negatively about ourselves.
It’s easy to think of the mind as something we have no control over. Thoughts often come unbidden. This may result in a passive view toward our mind and our thoughts, in entertaining every single thought that knocks on the door of our mind.
How dangerous would it be if we invited everyone who knocked on the front door into our house? How much more dangerous, then, to invite every thought into our most personal sphere of life—our minds!
Here’s the good news: we do have control over what thoughts we entertain. Paul writes the following in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5:
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (NKJV, emphasis added).
Think of your mind, then, as a closed door—like the door to your house. Thoughts of all kinds may knock on that door, but you get to choose which ones you entertain. These are the guests in the home of your mind. They will stay as long as you entertain them.
Philippians 4:8 is a tool that we can use to evaluate the thoughts that come knocking. In this verse, Paul offers a list of criteria for things that we should meditate, or think, on. These eight criteria are the basis for several questions that we can ask to evaluate our thoughts, particularly the ones that cause us to think negatively of ourselves:
- Is this true? Does this thought conflict with what God has already stated about me? Does it match up with what trusted people in my life have told me?
- Is it noble, praiseworthy, and of good report? How would I like for everyone around me to hear this thought?
- Is it just and virtuous? Am I being too hard on myself? Would I be ashamed of saying this about someone else?
- Is it pure and lovely? Does this thought build me up? Does help me to be a better person, friend, or Christ-follower? If not, why am I letting it in?
If a thought fails to meet these criteria, refuse to entertain or meditate upon it and replace it with something that does.
Through Christ, we have the power to take every thought captive. Let us not be passive in the realm of our thoughts, and instead evaluate the things that we meditate on. Let’s close the doors to our minds, opening them only to thoughts that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy.
Natalie Macek is a twenty-year-old college student. She studies Middle Childhood Education at Cedarville University in Ohio, with the goal of becoming a middle school English or Math teacher. Currently, she works as the editor for Polished, an e-magazine for Christian teen girls and their moms. Natalie is passionate about her faith in God and about reminding girls of their identity and value in Him, especially as they navigate the struggles of middle and high school.