Where do you dwell? I know you probably have an apartment or a house or some other accommodations where you sleep and spend time on the weekends, but the question is, "where do you dwell?”. That is to say, where do you spend the majority of your time during the day (or night)? Do you work in an office, a classroom, behind the counter in a bank or in the cab of a truck or tractor? Where do you spend your time? Wherever it is, you most likely have made your mark on that corner of the world, making it your own.
We outfit our homes with furnishings and decor, our offices with pictures of friends and family, the truck cab might even have an air freshener and favorite set of radio stations. Wherever we dwell, we tend to invest ourselves and make that space our own, giving it that touch that reflects our individuality. We allow ourselves to interact with our surroundings in a personal way. In the same way, the Bible tells us to be careful of the “spaces” in which we allow our minds to dwell.
Philippians 4:8 says, "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.” It is important to be mindful not only of the things we allow our mind to think about, but where we dwell mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Can you imagine what it would be like to allow yourself to dwell on the opposites of this list? Try it on for size- just for a moment:
…whatever is false, whatever is undignified, whatever is wrong, whatever is defiled, whatever is grotesque, whatever is repulsive, if anything is poor quality or worthy of derision, think about such things…
Wow! What a list, and what a thought life that would be! The unfortunate reality is that there are many who do exactly that, at least in part. They spend their time with their heads filled with things that are not real, not lovely, not pure, not admirable. Media, advertising, 24-hour news stations and popular culture tend to be overrun with these qualities. Social media, and idle conversation promote and further these qualities until they seem to overshadow the existence of truth and beauty.
Just think about how dwelling in such places must interact with our deepest selves at the most intimate levels. How much needless grief and trouble do we bring on ourselves by not keeping a hand on the reins of our thought life? An old hymn expresses this thought in this way, “O, what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer”.
God’s call is to rein in the mind by filtering our thoughts through constraints that reflect His character. God is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise! The God that created us and daily provides every good thing for us, calls us to acknowledge Him, even in the way we manage our thought life. So, what is beautiful about your life today? Do you dwell on that beauty, or do you lean toward the brokenness of life? Is God beautiful to you, and are you directing your thoughts toward Him? Perhaps your first try at it could be a prayer to ask God to help you “think on these things”.