Thinking is not just an individual exercise, it is certainly also a group experience.
Look at today's scripture:
"and now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing; fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me-everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you."
Philippians 4:8-9 NLT
Thinking for ourselves is a very important core to how our thoughts need to develop. Who influences our thinking and informs our core is just as important, if not more.
Paul starts off this theme speaking to the community of brothers and sisters, and the exhortations he gives are addressed to them in community. So he is saying as a community, fix your thoughts... When we individualize thinking too much, we are ignoring where our thinking is played out, adjusted and influenced, which is in a community. This is why we all enjoy conversations where we can offer our honest opinions in a safe way or to challenge others.
This communal experience of thinking is very powerful and is why we need to be concerned about the friends of our children, for example. What about our community though, who are your influencers? Paul uses the term brothers and sisters to state that this relational thinking is a part of local churches. When he says,
"Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."
He is not just saying think this way yourself. He is saying, lift this way of thinking in your communal experience as a church! So it is very important for us to realize how our thinking is formed really in community!
So who influences and what influences us becomes absolutely critical! It is good to learn from all different types of sources, but what influences us is different. At that level we must choose wisely!