A Biblical Perspective for Mental Health II (Philippians 4:4-8)

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Worry is a major cause of what is commonly called “mental illness.” It has been estimated that as much as half of hospital patients worldwide could be discharged if they learned to deal properly with the issue of worry or guilty. Depression, substance abuse, suicide, and a host of other so-called mental illnesses can have worry as their root cause.

I recently read a sermon preached by David Powlison. The subject of the sermon was worry, and he began by noting that he was going to preach on a subject that affected everyone in the congregation. Renowned Christian counsellor Jay Adams has stated that worry is the most accepted and least shamed sin in the church today.

It may sound strange to some to speak of worry as a sin, but that is precisely what it is. In our passage of study, we are commanded to “be careful [or anxious, or worried] for anything,” and thus to worry is to disobey a command from Scripture, which is to sin. Adams says that he sometimes asks a congregation to which he has been preaching if anyone sitting there has committed adultery or murder in their hearts that week. Perhaps a few brave souls will raise their hands, but then he asks whether anyone has worried that week, to which nearly everyone—without blushing—raises their hand. He then points out that worry is as much a sin as murder and adultery.

The Bible addresses the issue of worry, and thus it is important that we examine this issue biblically to see what God’s Word says on the subject. Despite what you may have been taught in the past, let me assure you that worry is not an illness. Instead, worry is an issue of faith. And, like all issues of faith, it is a matter of both the heart and of the mind. And so Paul tells his readers, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Now, we should understand that the “heart” and the “mind” are often spoken of interchangeably in the Bible. For example, in Matthew 6 Jesus spoke these well-known words:

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

(Matthew 6:19-34)

Now, note that Jesus speaks about your treasure being where your heart is, and then immediately he begins speaking about thoughts, and specifically worries. Thus, Jesus equates the heart and the mind in Matthew 6. And thus, whether you want to speak of the heart or of the mind, that is where worry is seated in our lives. I want to speak in this study more of the mind than of the heart, for I want to drive home the point that if we want to overcome worry, it is all about having the right thoughts. Many years ago I met a blind evangelist, and when I asked him how he coped with his blindness, he told me it is a case of mind over matter: “If you don’t mind, it really doesn’t matter!” And the same can be said of the issue of worry.

Paul speaks in Philippians 4 of worry. He commands us in v. 6 to not be anxious, and almost immediately adds in v. 8 that we must think on those things that are honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. He is not changing the subject between v. 6 and v. 8; instead, he is saying that the key to overcoming worry is to think on the right things.

The battle for peace is a battle with worry, and this is ultimately a battle of the mind. The Christian life is essentially about a change of mind. We are told to repent (literally, change our minds) and believe the gospel. Of course, this is more than a mere intellectual change, but it is nonetheless a change of mind. When Jesus healed the demoniac in Mark 5, the people were amazed that he was “in his right mind” (Mark 5:15). When we are saved we are put in a right mind, and the rest of the conversion experience is about being renewed in our mind. The nature of conversion is one of the mind. Consider the following texts, which speak to the issue of the mind.

  • Romans 8:1-9—“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”
  • Ephesians 2:1-7—“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
  • Ephesians 4:17-24—“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
  • 2 Timothy 1:7—“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
  • Hebrews 8:10-11—“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.”

But how are we to ensure that we are in a right frame of mind? If having a right mind is the key to overcoming worry, what is the key to having a right mind? This is the question we will answer in this study.

A Gospel Mandate

We considered vv. 4-7 in our previous study. I do not want to take the time to repeat everything that was said there, but let us remember briefly that Paul gave three mandates to believers in the face of “real life.”

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

(Philippians 4:4-7)

First, he commanded believers to rejoice in all their circumstances (v. 4). If we understand that God is sovereign, that He cares for s, and that he has a plan for us, we will indeed be able to remain joyful in our circumstances, even if we do not enjoy them all.

Second, he commanded his readers to be reasonable in all conflicts (v. 5). In the words of Michael Bentley, we are to have “the attitude of the man who is charitable toward men’s faults and merciful in his judgment of their failures.” We are to be satisfied with less than our due, and we must refuse to retaliate when attacked. This, of course, requires a huge mind shift, which can only be accomplished by the power of the gospel.

Third, he commanded believers to be reverent in all their concerns (vv. 6-7). Worship is the solution to worry. We are to pray in all our circumstances, which will result in God’s peace being made manifest in our lives. When we pray, our minds are set straight; it is after prayer that we must guard our thoughts. And we do that by heeding vv. 8-9.

A Gospel Meditation

The key to a sound mind, says Paul, is to have right thoughts. “Finally”—when all is said and done—“brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (v. 8). And so the key to biblical mental health is a proper meditation on those things on which God would have us dwell. Simply stated, the key to overcoming worry and cynicism, to having proper mental health, is to take responsibility for your thoughts. This is the heart of Paul’s message in these verses.

Jay Adams, mentioned above, believes that he has diagnosed a problem in the church, and since he has diagnosed it, he claims that he ought to be the one to name it. He calls this problem plaqueitis. He explains that, in the many homes that he visits in his ministry, he often finds a plaque on the living room wall displaying Philippians 4:6-7. Now, this is of course not a problem in itself, but the underlying problem is that many seem to lose the overall context of these verses. Whilst it is important to pray in the midst of our worries, prayer is not the end of the matter. Once we have obeyed vv. 6-7, we must obey v. 8. That is, once we have emptied our minds of worry, we must fill them with that which is good. “In [this] injunction,” writes Adams, “you have God’s leash law for the mind. He does not want you to allow your mind to wander all over the neighborhood, poking its nose into every garbage can that might be open.”

Once we have emptied our minds of worry, we cannot live with a mental vacuum. Our minds must be saturated with God’s truth, with the gospel. The word “think” speaks of meditation. It is more than a casual thought. It speaks of taking inventory, of deep contemplation. John MacArthur has spoken of it as “an habitual discipline of the mind.” We must repack our minds, freshly emptied of worry, with the things of v. 8.

Before we delve into the various things of which v. 8 speaks, let us first make a couple of basic but important observations.

First, let us understand that proper mental health, and thus spiritual victory, requires effort. In the microwave age in which we live, we are used to instant results. And since it is possible to produce chicken flavoured noodles in two minutes, we sometimes expect spirituality to likewise happen overnight. But this is never the way it has been: Spirituality requires effort. We must deliberate in our effort to overcome. We must take ourselves in hand and exercise a conscious, deliberate decision to think rather than to be controlled by our circumstances. Psalm 42 is a good illustration of this point.

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

(Psalm 42:1-11)

Note how the psalmist begins in the opening four verses to speak of some worry that he had in his life. He had fond memories of better times, but he was struggling as he wrote. He thirsted for God, but felt that God was far from him. Others observed this and mocked him, “Where is thy God?” Yes, there was once a time of “joy and praise” in “the house of God,” but now he wondered, “When shall I come and appear before God?”

What would he do? Should he just give into worry and take medication for his depression? No! He committed to taking himself in hand. He began speaking to himself: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why are thou disquieted in me?” He made the deliberate decision to think right thoughts: “Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.” He was not naïve about his circumstances—“O my God, my soul is cast down within me”—but he knew what needed to be done: “Therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.” He knew that the key to overcoming worry was to think truthful thoughts and to talk himself back into a right frame of mind. (As has been said, it is mentally healthy to talk to yourself; so long as you don’t begin answering yourself!)

The same dynamic can be seen in Psalm 56. This time, it is David who writes these words. If the heading in our Bibles is correct, he wrote these words “when the Philistines took him in Gath.”

Be merciful unto me, O God: for man would swallow me up; he fighting daily oppresseth me. Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High. What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me. Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil. They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait for my soul. Shall they escape by iniquity? in thine anger cast down the people, O God. Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me. In God will I praise his word: in the LORD will I praise his word. In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?

(Psalm 56:1-13)

Notice again that the writer is battling against worry. “Man would swallow me up.” “He fighting daily oppresseth me.” “Mind enemies would daily swallow me up.” “They be many that fight against me.” David, like the writer of Psalm 42, is realistic concerning these troubles. He admits that he is “afraid,” but does not run to the nearest psychiatrist for medication. Instead, he makes a commitment: “I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” The remainder of the psalm follows this pattern: David admits his worries, but then expresses his faith in God to overcome those worries.

Asaph also knew how to overcome worry. In Psalm 77, he speaks of his own “day of trouble” (v. 2). He speaks further of his unceasing trouble all night long, and adds that his “soul refused to be comforted” (v. 2). He makes mention of his spirit being overwhelmed (v. 3), of being so troubled that he could not speak (v. 4), and speaks plainly of the feeling that God had distanced Himself from him (vv. 7-9). And what was his solution? It was the same as his fellow psalmists’.

I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High. I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings. Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God? Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people. Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah. The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled. The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad. The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook. Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known. Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

(Psalm 77:10-20)

These are but a sampling of biblical texts that illustrate the point, but they will suffice for now. If we will overcome worry in our lives, we must do something. We must take inventory and guard our minds in order to bring ourselves to the truth. As bad as our situation seems to be, we must talk ourselves back into a right position.

Second, if proper mental health requires effort and careful thought, worry is the result of not thinking. In other words, we worry when we do not think correctly about God and about the things of God.

Many years ago, I was greatly discouraged over a particular situation that had taken place in my life. I was visiting my grandmother, who told me about a used Christian bookstore close to where she lived. I visited the bookstore and came across a small book by an author of whom I had never before heard: D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The book’s title caught my attention: Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cures. The book turned out to be a series of sermons dealing with the issue of spiritual depression. Lloyd-Jones made the point quite clearly that our problem with worry and depression lies in our thinking.

Having read that book, I was eager to find more works by the same author. I soon came across a far larger book, entitled Studies in the Sermons on the Mount. If I was ever told that I was only allowed to read one book in my life, this might well be the one I would choose. In his comments on Matthew 6:30-34, Lloyd-Jones writes:

There is no greater fallacy than to regard the gospel of Jesus Christ as just something that you think of when you are in church or when you are spending a certain amount of time in meditation. No, it applies to the whole of life. Let us look at it like this. To be “of little faith” means, first of all, that we are mastered by our circumstances instead of mastering them. That is an obvious statement. The picture given in this entire section if of people who are being governed by life. There they are, as it were, sitting hopelessly under a great cloud of concern about food and drink and clothing and many other things. These things are bearing down upon them and they are the victims of them. That is the picture which He gives, and we know how true it is. Things happen to us, and immediately, as we put it, we are “bowled over,” we are mastered by them. That is something which, according to Scripture, should never happen to a Christian. The picture is given of him everywhere in the Bible is of one who is above his circumstances. He can even “rejoice in tribulation,” not just stand up to it with a stoical kind of fortitude. He does not give way or whimper; he is not simply, to use the common phrase, “grinning and bearing it.” No; he rejoices in the midst of tribulation. Only one who has true faith can look down upon life in that way, and can ever rise to such a height: but that, according to the Bible, is possible to the Christian.

Why does the man of little faith allow things to master him and to get him down? The answer to that question is that, in a sense, the real trouble with “little faith” is that it does not think. In other words, we have to be right in our whole conception of faith. Faith, according to our Lord’s teaching in this paragraph, is primarily thinking; and the whole trouble with a man of little faith is that he does not think. He allows circumstances to bludgeon him. That is the real difficulty in life. Life comes to us with a club in its hand and strikes us upon the head, and we become incapable of thought, helpless and defeated. The way to avoid that, according to our Lord, is to think. We must spend more time in studying our Lord’s lessons in observation and deduction. The Bible is full of logic, and we must never think of faith as something purely mystical. We do not just sit down in an armchair and expect marvellous things to happen to us. That is not Christian faith. Christian faith is essentially thinking. Look at the birds, think about them, and draw your deductions. Look at the grass, look at the lilies of the field, consider them.

The trouble with most people, however, is that they will not think. Instead of doing this, they sit down and ask, What is going to happen to me? What can I do? That is the absence of thought; it is surrender, it is defeat. Our Lord, here, is urging us to think, and to think in a Christian manner. That is the very essence of faith. Faith, if you like, can be defined like this: It is a man insisting upon thinking when everything seems determined to bludgeon and knock him down in an in intellectual sense. The trouble with the person of little faith is that, instead of controlling his own thought, his thought is being controlled by something else, and, as we put it, he goes round and round in circles. That is the essence of worry. If you like awake at night for hours I can tell you what you have been doing; you have been going round and round in circles. You just go over the same old miserable details about some person or some thing. That is no thought; that is the absence of thought, a failure to think. That means that something else is controlling your thought and governing it, and it leads to that wretched, unhappy state called worry. So we are entitled to define “little faith” in the second place as being a failure to think, or of allowing life to master our thought instead of thinking clearly about it, instead of “seeing life steadily and seeing it as a whole.”

If you read the entire sermon, you will soon realise that Lloyd-Jones is speaking of more than psychological, intellectual thinking; he is speaking of thinking about God. He is saying precisely what Paul says in Philippians 4. He tells us to repackage our minds with God’s thoughts. Johan Kepler, a believing scientist, was once asked how he came up with his brilliant theories and discoveries. His reply was telling: “I am simply thinking God’s thoughts after him.” We are called by Paul to think God’s thoughts; to think on those things that are “honest,” “just,” “pure,” “lovely,” and “of good report.” Let’s break this apart and consider each of these thoughts individually.

First, we are to think on those things which are “honest.” This speaks of those things that are true, factual, as opposed to that which is false. So, you might be tempted to worry that the stock market will crash and you will lose all your money. But Paul calls us to worry not about what might happen, but instead about what is true.

A friend recently told me that, when he was much younger, he had several weeks of terrible headaches. He went to various doctors to try and diagnose the problem, but he convinced himself that he had a brain tumour. Despite the fact that the many consulting doctors could find nothing wrong, he was convinced that his life was in danger. A wise friend counselled him from Philippians 4:8 to think on those things that are true, rather than on what he imagined to be true.

However, you may still have a valid question: What happens if your worst fears are realised? What happens if the stock market does crash? What happens if your headaches are caused by a brain tumour? The counsel stands: Think on those things that are true. Consider the fact that God is sovereign, and that He is in control of all things. Consider the fact that He loves you, and that He has a plan for everything that happens in your life. In other words, meditate upon the truth of God’s Word.

Second, Paul counsels his readers to reflect on those things that are “honest.” “Honest” means “noble.” It is translated in 1 Timothy 3:8, 11 as “grave,” in the sense of “serious” (as opposed to frivolous).

Sadly, we often worry about those things that are definitely frivolous. We get so caught up in the materialism of the world that we forget those things that are noble. In our entertainment-oriented society, it is easy to think on those things that are frivolous. But if we will our minds with the shallow, we will never be spiritually healthy. We must be serious-minded and noble in our thoughts if we will have good mental health.

Third, the apostle urges us to think on those things that are “just.” This speaks of things that are equitable and righteous.

How often do we lose sleep because we are worrying about having been done wrong? More to the point, we stew upon the injustice done to us, perhaps imagining ways in which we can get back at the person who has done us wrong. But rather than reflecting on the injustice done to us, Paul would have us reflect on the fact that we serve a just God. We are called to follow Christ,

Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

(1 Peter 2:23-25)

Christ was treated with a greater injustice than any of us will ever face, but He did not dwell on that. Instead, He reflected on the justness of His Father, and refused to retaliate in anger.

Perhaps the best way to reflect on those things that are just is to reflect on the gospel. When we think on the gospel, we understand just how wretched we really are. And if we understand how wretched we are, it will give us an entirely different perspective on what we perceive as injustice.

Fourth, Paul challenges believers to think on those things that are “pure,” which means “chaste” or “holy.” Perhaps you struggle with lustful thoughts. The solution is to get rid of those things that fill your mind with lust, and to instead fill your mind with the pure Word of God. The first step in overcoming the battle with pornography is to fill one’s mind with truth. Memorise Scripture, and fill your mind much with it. This is an important principle to grasp in a world that is increasingly losing all sense of modesty.

Fifth, we are to think on those things that are “lovely.” This speaks of that which is morally attractive, or in the words of William Hendriksen, “that which breathes and evokes love.” We contrast this with those things that are fierce. When we are tempted to depression because of the squalor of this world, then we need to think upon that which is lovely: the Lord Jesus Christ. At a funeral I recently attended, the pastor read portions of Revelation 21-22, which speaks of the glory of New Jerusalem. This is a passage that describes the church right now, but which also indicates what the church is headed toward. And thus, as bad as the world around us seems to be, God, the Word of God, and the people of God are “lovely.”

Finally, Paul exhorts us to think on those things that are “of good report.” This speaks of things that are “well sounding,” or “appealing.” It speaks of those things that make a good impression by their very nature. Thus, we are to think on those things that are worthy of our attention, rather than on those things that are foolish.

Some time ago a church member called me, greatly distressed. This person had just returned from the shops, where they had met someone who used to attend our church. This person began saying all sorts of bad things about me, in an attempt to damage my reputation. I told our church member that I would be happy to meet with them and answer any questions about the accusations raised against me. “Oh no,” they replied, “I don’t believe any of it; I just thought you should know about it.”

Immediately, I stopped the conversation, and told our church member that, if they didn’t believe the reports, and if there was nothing for me to clarify or rectify, then I really did not want to focus on evil reports. I did not want to focus on the bad reports; it was far more important for me to focus on that which was “of good report.” If the accusations were evil and malicious, what good could it possibly do for me to dwell on them?

In our cynical world, it is easy for us to focus upon bad reports. We are surrounded by those who are all too willing to spread gossip and slander, but we must not allow ourselves to focus on such things.

Paul concludes that “if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” In other words, we are to heed all that he has said, and to focus on those things that are morally and spiritually excellent, rather than on those things that are full of vice.

As we draw this study to a close, I want you to notice that each of the six things described above is an accurate description of God’s Word. The way to overcome worry is to focus on God’s Word.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

(Psalm 1:1-3)

What will God’s Word ultimately point us to? It will point us to the gospel of Christ. Do you want to overcome worry? Do you want to have good mental health? Then learn to love the gospel! Meditate upon the good news of what God has done for you in Christ Jesus. If you have a gospel-saturated mind, then indeed you will enjoy the peace of God, which passes all understanding. Brothers, sisters, meditate on these things, and enjoy mental and spiritual health.