Our minds are constantly bombarded with all kinds of input, some good and some bad. We are influenced (sometimes subconsciously) by what we watch, what we read, what and WHO we listen to, and any other outside forces in our lives. Thought patterns of anxiety, impurities, selfishness, greed, hatred, destruction, laziness, and childishness have slowly and steadily taken control of our minds. The older I become and the more I learn about myself, the more I realize how important it is to filter the thoughts that I allow to run through my mind… and more importantly, the ones I choose to dwell on. You’ve probably heard someone say before, “you are what you think.” It’s true in a lot of ways. We’ve all made choices that we regret, but we also need to understand that the choices we make ultimately begin with what we think about. Our minds are true warzones with real fights going on each and every day… actually it’s more like each and every moment.
The mind is an incredibly powerful thing. If we do not control our minds (or submit to God’s control)… if we just allow ourselves to think on whatever pops into our heads, then our minds will control us. An unbridled flame becomes an uncontrollable fire, and it does so pretty quickly.
The answer? We have to allow God to reprogram our minds. And after the reprogramming, we can’t let up. It has to become who we are. Read Philippians 4:8 with me…
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Because of some of my life choices (that I will talk more about in part 3), Philippians 4:8 has become a favorite scripture focus for me. It is a good measure of anything in life… thoughts, motives, actions, things we say. Just using it to test our thoughts can stop us from doing some really stupid things that we will regret. For the next few Mondays, we are going to look at this verse piece by piece and talk about this test that God has given us to use in our lives.
Think on things that are… true.
I looked up the word “true” and found the following definitions and synonyms: valid, honest, reliable, genuine, authentic, sincere, loyal, faithful, steadfast, unfailing, sure, real. Do your thoughts match up with these descriptions? Or do they fit more with these antonyms for “true”: corrupt, counterfeit, fraudulent, deceitful, false, unreal?
The only real truth is God’s word. Unfortunately, we take a lot of the things we hear about on a daily basis as “truth.” Remember the movie, The American President? There is a quote in the movie that says, “…in the absence of genuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone.” Lewis was talking about how people are so easily swayed by whoever “takes the lead” and presents his case. We can see this in our thoughts. If we are not truly focused on God’s truth everyday, really learning and seeking to find out what He has to say to us in our lives, then we will be easily swayed to listen to anything that comes our way. Our “slow fade” culture has caused all of us to be desensitized in a lot of areas (some that you and I probably don’t even consciously recognize). However, when our lives are grounded on God’s truth, and that is the measure of everything that comes at us, it is easier to fight off the everyday temptations that try so hard to control us!
So, how can we fight this battle?
First of all, know that it can NOT be done in your own strength. Trust me… I have tried and tried. Sometimes, I think I am more stubborn than most people. I’ve tried “routines” to keep my thoughts clean (that I will talk more about later), and they never work. It’s like dieting to lose weight. If you just go on a diet, the weight will ultimately come back. However, if you make healthy eating a LIFESTYLE, there is more potential to keep it up. The same goes for thoughts. If you try to do it your way, in your own strength, the old thought patterns will come back. Only by staying focused on God’s word can you truly change your entire way of thinking.
Second, since you know that it cannot be done through your own strength, ask God to change you. Give Him control and ask Him to reveal the “input” areas that do not exemplify truth. And ask Him what He wants you to do with them… then DO IT! ☺
Third, pursue the truth. Offensively. Don’t sit back and wait for a temptation to come. Know God’s word so well that you recognize a non-truth when it comes. Then throw scripture back at the TV, radio, person you are listening to, whatever it may be. When scripture becomes so much a part of you that you use it in everyday conversation, you know you are growing.
Everyone wants us to think like they think. Some are more persuasive than others, but we all have had the thought, “if only they thought like me…” That’s why we need to be prepared now and why we need to be so enamored with God that all other influences fade away. The challenge for this week… look back up at the definitions for “true” and see where your thoughts fit. Then ask God to work on you. We’re all works in progress.
…take every thought captive to obey Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:5
Next Monday… Think on things that are honorable and just.
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