Stress Management Starts in the Mind
“Think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.” Philippians 4:8 (NCV)
The battle with stress in your life begins between your ears. It’s in your thought life. What you fill your mind with determines your level of stress. If you want peace of mind, you have to control what you allow into your mind.
For most people, the mind is like a freeway. They let anything drive through it. They watch shows that are full of junk and nonsense, scroll through social media sites that are polarizing, and listen to gossip that makes them envious. Then they’re surprised when their mind’s freeway becomes polluted with all of these things. And they wonder why their stress is so high.
The Bible offers another way. Philippians 4:8 says, “Think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected” (NCV).
To lower your stress, change what you think about. In this verse, the Bible gives you eight tests for deciding if you should allow something in your mind. Ask yourself:
- Is it good?
- Is it worthy of praise?
- Is it true?
- Is it honorable?
- Is it right?
- Is it pure?
- Is it beautiful?
- Is it respected?
Think about the course of your week—the conversations you have, the books you read, the songs you listen to, the websites you scroll, the TV and movies you watch, and the things you do with your free time. How do all of these things hold up to that eight-question test? Are the things you’re putting into your mind all week good, worthy of praise, true, honorable, right, pure, beautiful, and respected?
If not, it’s time to start filling your mind with different things.
Each one of those eight attributes actually describes God. So when you think about things that are good, worthy of praise, true, honorable, right, pure, beautiful, and respected, you’re really picturing God.
Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (NLT).
Corrie ten Boom—a Dutch Christian during World War II—knew the truth of that verse. She and her family hid Jews from the Nazis and were eventually sent to death camps, where her sister and father died. But through that horrible time, she discovered the secret of living with a mind at peace. She said it like this: “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. But if you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest.”
Whatever is going on around you, and the things you choose to think about, determine how much stress you feel. If you fix your thoughts on God, he will keep you in perfect peace.
Talk It Over
How are you doing in the battle against stress in your life? When do you find it easy to direct your thoughts toward God? When is it difficult?
Think about your favorite entertainment choices. Do they pass or fail the eight-question test?
How can you direct your thoughts toward God more often throughout the day?
This devotional © 2022 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.