Good thinking does not come naturally to me.
I mean, I do think. Don’t get me wrong, I think all the time. I’m pretty sure I’ve almost thought myself to death!
The problem is, I think in circles. Or in set patterns that seem to follow a particular protocol that was programmed into my brain by someone else… Someone who is not me! Or was it me? Some evil villain version of myself who does NOT have my own best interest at heart…?!
I think a lot of outside forces come to influence our cycles of perverted thinking… Whether circumstantial, genetic, spiritual or relational factors involves, it can be so hard to fight back at all those things coming against us! But still… I can’t escape this terrible reality, that ultimately no one can choose my thoughts but me.
I don’t want to have bad thinking. I don’t like feeling stressed or anxious, or bringing an air of negativity wherever I go… But how can I change? How do I take control of my thinking and make my mind do what I want it to do!? The patterns of thought in my brain, as twisted as they may be, are like deep rivets. And my thoughts flow into them like streams of liquid thought rushing toward a bigger river that carries me forward in forceful current toward darkness, destruction, loneliness, and despair.
Is it possible, to change these rivets, to set new courses of thinking that lead to new and abundant life? Scripture suggests it is so.
The ultimate goal.
I want to choose life in my mind because I know it has the power to direct the rest of my life. But even more so, I want my thoughts to lead me directly into the presence of my God, Jesus Christ, and into a life lived with Him.
Choosing life in the mind means choosing thoughts that lead me into the presence of God, not just for one moment, but in a continuing, abiding relationship with Him.
My destination is a life lived continually in the presence of Life Himself!
Psalm 15:1-2 says:
1 O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? 2 He who… speaks truth in his heart. (NASB)
(For the sake of our present focus, I am zooming in on one of three parts in v.2: He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart.)
The Psalmist is asking, Who Lord, can abide continually in Your presence? Who can take up residence with you and stay in your presence forever? (abide – to be continuing in; dwell – to settle down, reside)
He answers with many qualifications of the one who gains this incredible privilege, but among them is this: one who speaks truth in his heart.
The word speak in v.2 means “to speak, command, to subdue, to put everything in order.” This reminds me of 2 Corinthians 10:5, We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (ESV). To speak, here, is to take control.
I can take control of my thoughts, subdue them, and let truth reign in my mind. Truth is a real thing! It exists apart from me, what I am thinking and feeling… Truth is truly reliable, brings peace and security, is faithful and steadfast, is right. In John 14:6, Jesus Himself claims to be the way and the truth and the life, and invites us to subdue our thoughts and feelings under Him.
The heart is the inner person. It is the mind. It is this complicated, invisible thing called the soul. It is the me on the inside that thinks, feels, wills, and understands. It is this heart that Proverbs 4:23 exhorts us to guard, for from it flow all the springs [issues] of life.
David himself, the author / composer of so many of the Psalms, was chosen because of his heart. …the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people… (1 Samuel 13:14, NIV).
So where are my thoughts taking me?
My thoughts have the power to lead me toward Christ or away from Christ! Into His presence, or out of His presence!
Father, make us aware of our messy minds today. Reveal to us all of those thought patterns that are rooted in lies, those rivets of unbelief that lead us away into fear and confusion, or places where our own desires are taking us away from You. Teach us to take control over our hearts, to take each thought captive, and submit it to the obedience of Jesus Christ, the abiding Truth that lives in all those who believe. And may we be led into your presence, into life itself, and marvel at your goodness forevermore.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:7, ESV)
(Note: I shortened several Biblical definitions for the sake of space, focusing on those parts of the definition that were most relevant to our present discussion.)