Monitor Your Thoughts (Originally posted August 31, 2014)
“The human brain. It’s such an amazing part of our body. It’s capable of so much good, so much knowledge. And yet, it is also able to cause much harm, succumbing to the temptations of this world.
Our mind is always active. An unconscious chatter takes place within us daily. Sometimes that message is mundane, day-to-day thoughts. Because we live such busy lives, our minds have many choices and events to process. But sometimes our thoughts stray away from daily tasks and land squarely on unhealthy things. Anxiety, fear, worry, and discouragement are all bottomless pits waiting to prey upon our minds. And sadly, sometimes our thoughts wander into the realm of sin.
Interestingly, the bible refers to most of our thought processes as a heart issue and Jesus addresses this in the sermon on the mount. In Matthew 5:21-22 he says, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement.” And again in verse 27-28 he teaches, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Jesus reminds us that the sin in our life occurs long before the act. It occurs when our minds and our hearts are taken captive by temptation.
So what do we do when we notice a decline in a moral train of thought? First we must be aware of what we’re thinking. We must continually monitor our thoughts, being in control of where our mind is taking us. Finally, and most important of all, we must guard our minds and our hearts and preserve them for Christ. I’ll admit that’s hard to do, but Paul in Philippians 4:8 encourages us that, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.”
In a world where there is much that is wrong and evil abounds, we should know that we can still fill our minds and our hearts with that which is good. We can break through the prison that our minds often create and set it free thinking and meditating on a good and perfect God. Sure sounds like a good thought to me!”
The first thing that came to mind when revisiting the above post was, “Wow…we sure do have a lot of things that can distract our thoughts nowadays!” But the truth is, it’s always been that way. The world has always had disturbing ways to keep us from focusing on God. It’s just now, with our television and internet-saturated culture, it’s even easier to become distracted.
The key to dealing with our thought life is similar to attacking any bad habit that we may have. Instead of filling our minds, and as result, our hearts with negativity and evil, we must instead make a point of surrounding ourselves with the things that provide a godly influence and thought process. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” This is a work enacted by the Holy Spirit as he enables us to be more aware of the sinful things that can divert us away from godly thinking.
Sounds great right? Just change our thought process to be more in line with God? Like many of God’s other commands, it’s not always as easy as it sounds. That is why Paul reminds us to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). There are still plenty of godly things in this world that can garner our attention, but only if we choose to focus our mind there. That might mean we need to change who we associate with, or what companies we affiliate with, or especially what entertainment choices we make.
No matter what we do, we must make every effort to “guard (our) heart, for everything (we) do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).