People have some messed up thinking. Maybe you don’t really pay attention to your thoughts, but this is an area where God has been working on me. Whether we realize it or not, what we think affects our feelings and our actions. What we think affects how we relate to others, and it affects how we view the world. Our thoughts are far more important than we realize.
Recently, my husband and I were talking about the power of thoughts. He quoted Proverbs 23:7, which states, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (NKJV). He related it to how his thoughts affected him entering into and continuing in an adulterous relationship. I have already shared how his affair began with a series of compromises, the most harmful of which was viewing pornography. As he viewed those images, he started becoming more of that kind of person. Those thoughts resulted in other thoughts which led him down a path of much devastation and destruction. His thinking became warped, dark, and impure, and that thinking produced rotten fruit. Twisted thinking kept him imprisoned in that relationship for approximately two years.
So, what is the remedy for our stinkin’ thinkin’? We find that answer in the Bible as well:
“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” (Philippians 4:8, NLT).
Here’s Philippians 4:8 worded differently: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (NKJV). According to these verses, we should think about things that are true, honest, just, pure, right, lovely, praiseworthy, and admirable. Think on good things.
Another important scripture that addresses our thinking, specifically how we can change our thinking, is found in Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (NIV).
Here’s that same verse worded differently: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (NLT). According to this verse, as my thoughts change, my character and life will change, and I will be able to discern God’s will. Of course, this process is lifelong, because in any given day, we are bombarded by all kinds of thoughts. The important thing is to learn to recognize those negative, destructive, messed up thoughts, and then work to change them.
So, how do we begin to change our thinking? We must be careful of what we think about. How do we apply Philippians 4:8 to our lives? First, we must read God’s word. God’s word tells us what is right and wrong, what is true, what is pure, what is just, what is lovely, what is good. If my thinking does not line up with what God’s word says about an issue or situation, then my thinking is wrong and must change. God will not change His word to fit into my thinking. If I hold an opinion or attitude or perspective that is not supported by God’s word, then I am wrong. How sincerely or strongly I feel about that opinion, attitude or perspective is irrelevant. I can sincerely believe something, but be wrong, and I may have a strong opinion about something, but my opinion is worthless if it does not agree with what God has to say. God’s word is the standard by which we must judge our thoughts.
Second, we must be careful what we watch, read, and hear. At our house, we are careful about these things. What goes into us WILL come out of us, whether we realize it or not. Not long after I became a Christian, God convicted me about listening to secular music. For me, it is hard to listen to secular music without thinking about things I have no business thinking about and without it creating feelings in me that only encourage more messed up thinking. I will admit that I fought God about this issue. I did not want to give up my music. I liked listening to those songs. Those songs brought back a lot of memories, both good and bad. But, if I was going to live a life of obedience, I had to be obedient in this area, so I stopped listening to secular music, except under very specific circumstances, such as when my husband and I go on a date. That’s just one example of a practical way I began to change my thinking.
I have noticed something about myself, and it is something I believe many people struggle with. If something stressful or negative happens, I rehearse and rehash those things in my mind over and over until I have worked myself into a frenzy. The more I think about whatever happened, the more anxious and agitated I become. Before long, I am taking those thoughts and feelings out on others, which creates an entirely new set of problems. So, I am really trying to discipline myself in this area–to let things go, to stop dwelling on them. It is hard, but I am discovering that the more I practice not dwelling on things, the less anxious and the more peaceful my mind becomes.
Stinkin’ thinkin’ is destructive. Our thinking affects everything we do and how we do it. There’s no way around it. For example, if we are angry with someone, if we are not careful, we will treat that person according to how we think and feel toward them rather than how God would have us treat them or how we would want to be treated. We may grumble and complain about someone or about a situation because we have the wrong perspective. (God’s working on me about this, too). Most of us don’t realize how messed up our thinking is. Our minds are like battlegrounds, and every battle is first won or lost in the mind. If we put good things into us, good things will come out of us. If we put junk into us, junk will come out of us. What are you feeding yourself?
So, what stinkin’ thinkin’ do you need to change?