The practice of meditating on the Word will be most beneficial for right thinking, because when you are meditating on the scriptures your mind is occupied with right thoughts. And the scriptures will also guide you in what else to think about in the world besides the scriptures. One of the passages that specifically tell us that is Philippians 4:8. Here Paul outlines for us seven things we should think about; or I think we could also look at it as seven qualities or virtues we should seek out and think about in different things in the world, such as in people, books, movies, and institutions.
But we are not to just casually think over them; the word translated “think on” or “meditate on” (logizesthe), suggests more than just thinking. The word actually means to take inventory, to reason, to reckon, and to esteem. Adam Clark suggests that the things we are to meditate on, we are also to “esteem them highly, recommend them heartily, and practice them fervently.” Likewise, Jamieson, Fauset, and Brown, in their commentary, says that it means “have regard to, so as to ‘do’ these things (Phil. 4:9) whenever occasion arises.”
Therefore, we should not look only at the scriptures for what to think about, but we should regard that God has placed virtue all around us. So we should seek to find those things and think about them, then to esteem them highly and to practice them fervently. Here are those seven things that Paul gives us:
Things that are true. These are things that are not false in their statements and promises, things that speak and emulate the truth. This can be said of the Bible, but also of many good books and of good people. But there are also equally as many bad, untrue books, people, and movies, etc., that we ought to stay away from and not think much about—things and people who make their business at lying and deceiving.
Whatever is noble. This refers to things that deserve respect and reverence, such as the aged, proper customs, and our great heroes, etc. It refers to anything or anyone that is worthy of honor. Hence, it would be good for us to think about men such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, or to consider the great heroes of faith in the Bible, to esteem them highly and to follow their faith.
Whatever is just (or right). Here we ought to think about men and women who are just in all their dealings with others. This refers to a good business and to good businessmen, or to honest and good professors, or to a pastor who practices doing what is right. Esteem these highly. But pay no regard to those who are dishonest—who seek to cheat on their taxes, etc. Look away from those and don’t give them much thought.
Whatever is pure. Here we are to think about and esteem those that are pure in their relations with the opposite sex, men who regard women as sisters and women who regard men as brothers. Hence, we ought to endorse movies and books that are pure and show respect for the sexes, but conversely, to discourage the viewing and reading of all material that is pornographic and vile.
Whatever is lovely. This refers to people who are not sour or crabby but are pleasant and sweet, loving and lovable, people who are fun to be around. It may also refer to works of art or the beauty of nature—all things that were created with a loving purpose. Let us spend time considering these things and people, and also in figuring out how we too can be loving and pleasant.
Whatever is of good report. This refers to people that have done good things, things worthy of commendation. It may also refer to good institutions and books and movies, etc. Hence, we ought to consider these, and follow in their path.
If there is any virtue…anything praiseworthy. Here Paul concludes by adding that if there is anything else that is of virtue and worthy of praise we should think on those things and consider doing them.
Therefore, in order to practice right thinking we must commit ourselves to the task of seeking out good and excellent things to think about. Then we must spend time at them to study them. We must also avoid things we ought not to think about—things that are not virtuous or praiseworthy. Resist these things completely, because they are your enemies. For if you spend time at them, they will work quietly to deceive and corrupt you.