Our minds are powerful. The mind can bring incredible joy, or incredible despair. We’ve seen versions of ‘guard your thoughts’ on all sorts of wall décor and daily devotionals.
Gandhi famously wrote “Watch your thoughts, they become words; watch your words, they become actions; watch your actions, they become habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny”.
Powerful stuff. Solomon was a little more succinct when he wrote, “As someone thinks within himself, so he is” (Proverbs 23:7).
All sin begins in the mind. What we chose to fill it with, or dwell on, can become a self-fulfilling prophecy of peace or discontent. Temptation, unforgiveness, greed, and pride will all separate us from God and His gift of peace. We’re partners in His plan for our lives, and the blessings that flow are directly related to how we tend to our thoughts.
We can’t be double-minded in calling on God to bless our lives while we go about cursing them. Although it’s impossible to control all of our thoughts, we can learn to guard them.
Consider What’s Necessary
Not every thought is beneficial, and not every thought needs to be spoken. At times I struggle with poor inner-monologue so I really have to watch this one. God cautions us to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19).
If we do this, it gives us the necessary time to think through what we want to say versus what needs to be said. God tells us to use words that build one another up and encourage (Ephesians 4:29).
Snarky, critical, gossipy, or unforgiving thoughts typically become hurtful words and actions that damage relationships. Before we say the first word we need to pause for a moment and consider the purpose, and whether it’s truly important and edifying.
If the purpose is to disparage someone for our own validation or temporary satisfaction, go right on ahead, but there will be a cost. Vengeful thoughts will create malice and feed pride that will cause division in our lives, and promote self-righteousness.
Temptation is a fact of life. We’ll all be tempted at some point with all sorts of things. The more you let your thoughts roam on the object of your temptation, the more you’ll want it, and the more you’ll rationalize how to get it. I think we’ve all been there; making excuses for fantasies and why our thoughts are harmless.
The reality is there are no harmless thoughts when there’s risk of destroying what’s precious to us. We have to be proactive in guarding which thoughts become actions. Creating margin means reducing the risk that our thoughts will lead us down the dead end road of bad choices.
This may mean avoiding tempting situations that could overload our willpower. It could also mean getting an accountability partner to help work through temptation. Distracting our tempting thoughts with more constructive avenues, like hobbies or exercise, can also help avoid bad actions.
In all cases, confessing and surrendering our tempting thoughts to God can give us the supernatural support to help overcome them.
Renew Your Mind
In a perfect world we could just flip a switch on our wayward thoughts. Sometimes they come whether we want them or not. Sheer willpower and distraction tactics will only work for so long; what we really need is the renewing of our minds altogether. Paul tells us in Romans to be transformed be the renewing of our minds so we can test and know the will of God in our lives (Romans 12:2).
This means spending time with Him, in word, prayer, and fellowship. The more we’re surrounded by His perspective the more it shapes our own. We start to learn humility, compassion, grace, forgiveness, and peace that soaks into all the corners of our life. There’s no better driver to changing our thoughts to build one another up and provide hope for our souls.
One of my favorite verses is Philippians 4:8, “ Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.” My cynical and self-serving mind really needs to connect with this.
We can become more positive-thinking people; it’s a matter of choice. Imagine how world-changing positive thoughts turning into positive actions, positive character, and positive destiny would be. It’s within grasp.
If you want to work on changing you’re thinking, we’re here to help. You can find our Crossroads counselors at (225) 341-4147.