"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things" (Phil 4:8).
Why is there such a variety and discrepancy in the moral quality of men? A man who starts and ends with his own thoughts is adrift; especially a sinful man whose thinking has been twisted and bent. Very early in the history of fallen man we read: "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5). Thought always carries with it a moral element. There are good and bad thoughts; righteous or evil; pure or corrupt. And so, man needs a moral anchor for his thinking; he needs some way to chart a reliable path that leads to a lofty destination. He needs a mental North Star.
It matters what we eat intellectually. There's an abundance of junk and toxic mental food that is multiplied and magnified by the current smorgasbord of the so-called "information age." "Alternative realities" are created in the mind and many of those alternatives are ugly and destructive. Ideas have consequences―every single one of them. Just as engineers employ their ideas into building projects, all people construct their lives with their thoughts which lead to their decisions and actions. Many of those construction projects turn out to be engineering disasters. As their lives and families collapse they often wonder, "what went wrong." It started way back there in the early days of the project where it never occurred to them that they were building on a fault line.
7 Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord.
9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
God's thoughts are the only true thoughts and thus our thoughts must conform to His. He is "the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6). "Man lives not by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). The Scriptures make it clear that the things we meditate on (i.e., think about), have a powerful impact on what we do and how we live. Our thoughts matter. "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success" (Josh. 1:8).
The unbeliever "became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools (Rom. 1:21-22). The new man in Christ, however, has a new foundation for his thinking. He is no longer "conformed to this world," but "transformed by the renewing of his mind" (Rom. 12:2). "But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness" (Eph. 4:20-24). We are to "bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (Col. 10:5).
What are you reading? What are you watching? What are you listening to? What are you thinking?