THOUGHTS ABOUT THOUGHTS
Does the title, Thoughts About Thoughts, seem a little strange? After all, we think thoughts, but do we ever have thoughts about our thoughts?
Have you ever thought about how much power our thoughts have? The Bible tells us that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21 NASB). “As he thinks within himself, so he is” (Proverbs 23:7).
But exactly what does that mean? First of all, what we speak originates in our thought life. Agreed? So, it follows that if our words can bring either death or life, then our thoughts can do the same. Just about everything starts with a thought: words, attitudes, actions, motives. My thoughts, though secret from everyone but me and the Lord, do manifest themselves outwardly. Have you ever looked at someone and thought, “Boy, he doesn’t look like he’s in a very good mood!” We don’t know his exact thoughts, but we do know the tenor of them. And it is not life-giving.
I sometimes have a problem keeping my thoughts focused. I call this ‘scattered thoughts’ and I have to fight against it if I hope to accomplish what I am doing. I cannot keep track of numerous scattered or wandering thoughts, so some of them may just etch a new path in my mind and work themselves down into the subconscious part of my mind. And there they live, in a secret place where we often cannot, or do not wish, to go, and if they are not good thoughts they will fester there until something erupts outwardly.
Have you ever had an outburst of anger, depression or heaviness, or perhaps just a nervous, anxious feeling and you couldn’t figure out where it came from? Those near you were surprised, and it even surprised you. Perhaps everything is going fairly well, you are generally happy. Then this intrusion of a negative mood, a reaction to some simple thing that should not have rattled you. The source could possibly be one of those thoughts that have disappeared into the subconscious mind. So, unless we take direct action to keep our thoughts guarded and never give negative thoughts the opportunity to stay long enough to take up residence and root themselves, we may find our mind filling with dark things. And remember, we become what we think. You recall the verse in Proverbs 23. We need to learn to instantly rebuke wrong thoughts, to renounce their presence and their residual effects and influence forever.
This may take concentrated prayer and reading of the Word of God. It may seem like a lot of effort, a lot like a battle. And that is exactly what it is – a battle in our minds, a battle to keep our thoughts pure. There is good reason for our brain to be in our head – the top – from where it rules the whole body. So the mind rules the whole soul part of us: will, mind, emotions, intellect, imagination. In other words, how we conduct our lives within and without. As born-again Christians, we must make every effort to rebuke any thought that has its root in worldly knowledge or wisdom, our own unsanctified imagination, thoughts that have been planted by others or that Satan has whispered into our spiritual ears – every thought that has the potential to produce an ungodly word, action, attitude or motive.
The tap roots of our thoughts go deep. We need to ask the Lord to help us break up the fallow ground (see Hosea 10:12) so He can pull out those roots intact. Thoughts do reproduce – they foster other thoughts. When I rebuke and renounce wrong thoughts I am, in essence, rebuking any offspring of those thoughts – those harsh words, negative attitudes, hurtful actions, wrong motives.
Thoughts are seeds that, once planted and allowed to grow, produce crops depending on what kind of seed it is – good or bad, pride or humility, kind, edifying words or bitter words of accusation and condemnation, love or hate, joy or depression, peace or turmoil and confusion, patience or anger and frustration, kindness or cruelty, goodness or evil, faithfulness or betrayal, gentleness or harshness, self-control or loss of control.
In me, in you – in the natural, fleshly sense – there dwells no good thing. Without Jesus we are and can do nothing. But if we don’t deal with uncontrolled, wrong, negative thoughts before they take root, we become less than nothing because we enter the negative equation – death, spiritually. But as we take control and rely on the Lord to fill our minds with good things, we will find life is so much better. So much smoother. No, we will not be without problems, trials, sorrows, difficulties, but we will have the Spirit of God working in us to produce the good fruit that brings us nearer to God. “Finally, brethren [and sisters too!], whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8 NASB). We have a serious responsibility concerning what we think. But we also have Jesus to strengthen us in our weakness. The Apostle Paul wrote, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).