The fourth meditation point in Philippians 4:8 is purity. How can we focus on purity when a Pandora’s box of impurity is constantly at our fingertips?
In this series we have explored how to meditate on truth that is both noble and just, which strengthens and protects our minds from the many negative and dangerous influences that constantly bombard our mental and spiritual health.
The next concept Paul adds to the list in Philippians 4:8 is purity. What a challenge it is to meditate on what is pure when:
- Pornography is a multibillion-dollar industry offering impurity at a mouse click.
- Movies, TV shows, video games and novels offer titillating, impure entertainment at every corner.
- Purity itself is often mocked and berated as being either naïve and unrealistic or downright prudish.
Let’s take a closer look at the concept of purity.
What does pure mean?
Thayer’s and Strong’s concordances describe the Greek word translated as “pure” in these ways: clean, innocent, modest, chaste and sacred. So, the implication is that purity is being clean or innocent of wrongdoing—like hands that have just been washed thoroughly after being in the dirt.
God says, “Keep yourself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22). We can do this by avoiding sin and all that goes along with it. When we do mess up and do what is impure, we must endeavor to clean ourselves up through repentance and change (2 Corinthians 7:11).
Purity is trying to be simple regarding what is evil, but wise about what is good.It may be instructive to think of the purity of a small child learning about the world. The innocence children possess is beautiful to watch, but it is fleeting, isn’t it? Sooner than any parent wants, that innocence becomes clouded by things like warnings about predators, filthy language they hear from a friend or movie, or improper images and ideas from the entertainment industry.
Purity is trying to be simple regarding what is evil, but wise about what is good (Romans 16:19). Mindful ignorance—choosing to remain unknowledgeable about evil—is not putting our heads in the sand; it can actually be a way to stay pure.
As has been discussed in previous blog posts in this series, without knowing God’s just and noble truth, we would have no idea what is pure and what is impure. By using God’s standard of purity (for He is pure, 1 John 3:3), we can avoid damaging our lives through impure thoughts, speech and actions.
Let’s look at some ways to think and speak what is pure.
1. Thinking what is pure
To think what is pure, strive to avoid:
- The vast majority of entertainment that is produced currently. When choosing what to allow into our minds, it can be very frustrating to try to find entertainment media that has “more good than evil” in the area of purity. It does exist, but it is rare.
If we are trying to set nothing wicked before our eyes (Psalm 101:3) in order to keep our minds pure, we have to be very careful about what we watch. To do this, we can check out online reviews of movies or TV shows before we view them (or allow our children to view them). You can’t always judge purely on the rating. Parents, remember also that some cartoons are very off-color and impure, so don’t assume something is okay because it is animated.
In regard to literature, we shouldn’t give it a pass just because it doesn’t use images to portray impure ideas. Impure literature can create impure imaginations in our minds, which can be just as dangerous as real images.
- The unrelenting efforts of society to sexualize everything and make it appear normal. In order to meditate on what is pure, we have to flee sexual immorality whenever it shows up (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
Some things to beware of: free Internet pornography, magazine covers with half-naked celebrities that affect our ideas of body image, movies and television shows that push the limits ever further, video games rated M, chat rooms filled with possible lurking predators, billboards and lingerie stores that sexually objectify women and young girls, etc.
Unless we continually put effort into staying sexually pure, our minds will get confused about our worth and body image, and we’ll start treating the opposite sex as objects instead of humans made in God’s image.
To think what is pure, strive to embrace:
- The pure milk of the Word of God (1 Peter 2:2), which gives life and enriches our mind. Want to know how to love others and not think of them as sexual objects for our amusement? Read God’s Word. Want to know the true cost of all that glorified violence, sex, intoxication and greed plastered all over modern media? Read God’s Word. Want to stay pure in a world that is constantly enticing us to compromise so we can feel good? Read God’s Word.
- Pure intent when consuming media. There are several pure things that we can get out of entertainment. Here are some questions to consider when evaluating media:
- Am I learning something by watching this?
- Am I being stirred to good works by reading this?
- Am I laughing or getting joy with a pure conscience by listening to or watching this?
2. Speaking what is pure
To speak what is pure, avoid:
- Foul language, including dirty, racist or violent jokes or comments (Ephesians 5:4). Our speech should be with grace and seasoned with salt—tact and gentleness (Colossians 4:6). There is no greater indicator of our hearts than how we say things, since the mouth speaks what is truly in the heart (Luke 6:45). To change how we speak for the better, we must first work to change our minds for the better.
- Contaminating what you are saying with spin, lies, half-truths, bitter sarcasm, constant criticism of other people, gossip, etc. Our speech can be contaminated by both what we say and how we say it.
To speak what is pure, embrace:
- Deep consideration of the words coming out of our mouths, and whether they are pure or not. We will be judged by our words (Matthew 12:37), so we need to take care in what we say and how we say it.
Think of the concept of purifying water when speaking: Are the words coming out of our mouth dirty and filled with pollutants, or are they clear? God’s Word and the influence of His Spirit can serve as a filter, purifying our words.
- Being considered old-fashioned. Stand out at work as being the only person to not use profanity. Be the person who steps out of the room when a conversation turns into the gossip mill.
Be different by not laughing or joining in when racist or dirty jokes are told. Don’t give in when someone says, “Come on, it’s not a big deal!” It is better to be considered old-fashioned by others than to be considered impure by God.
Do what is pure
We will make mistakes because we are human. But if we are striving to be pure, we will repent and try to change, not just continue to comfortably live in impurity. We want to be that clear, clean water that comes out of the filter, not the dirty water that goes into it. Repentance and change, little by little, helps us become clean, clear and pure.
Meditate on what is pure
Trying to be pure in a society that celebrates and encourages impurity is a challenge, but the rewards to our mental and spiritual health are priceless. We should strive to think about things that are lovely and pure so that our life will match our thoughts.
Here are the links to the rest of this series:
- Meditate on These Things: “Whatever Things Are True”
- Meditate on These Things: “Whatever Things Are Noble”
- Meditate on These Things: “Whatever Things Are Just”
- Meditate on These Things: “Whatever Things Are Pure”
- Meditate on These Things: “Whatever Things Are Lovely”
- Meditate on These Things: “Whatever Things Are of Good Report”
- Meditate on These Things: “If There Is Any Virtue”
- Meditate on These Things: “If There Is Anything Praiseworthy”