Are you in need of a good word of advice? I certainly have been lately. Yet, the other day, I got what I believe was the worst advice ever. I was feeling low in the slums when someone told me, "Try not to sulk too much." I almost chuckled at the message. Try not to sulk too much? Really? Is that best you've got?! I mean that's just as bad as telling someone who's having overeating issues, "try not to eat too much", or someone who has a drinking problem, "try not to drink too much." So I was taken back by the words, and decided that I would do a better job at giving myself some sound advice. I looked into the word of God and found a message that cut to the bone and still gave me the assurance I needed, "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." Philippians 4:8. Now that was sound advice for a needy soul!
You see, I've been struggling. Like many do. Struggling with thoughts. Scary thoughts, in fact. Thoughts of fears and concerns, about things that I cannot control. And the thoughts lead to worry. And so I worry. About things that are out of my control. And then I want to fix things. I want to change things. Out of my concern and worry, I want to make things right. I want to help. I want to put things in order and in the right perspective. But then I'm bogged down by burden. The burden of fixing things; everything. And so I walk around feeling heavy laden because I'm carrying the burdens of all of those things that I cannot do much about. It's like a rapid domino effect. It spirals out of control. And it all started with thoughts. Just thoughts. Thoughts. Do you have any?
In the Bible we find so many references with regards to our thought life. It's not surprising, in fact. Because our thoughts truly determine how we live and reflect who we are. Ever heard of the phrase, "you are what you eat"? Yeah, well, the truth is that you are what you choose to dwell on. You see, thoughts are left powerless, until we dwell on them, which in turn, empowers them. It's no wonder, the Bible urges to "Fix your mind on things from above, not on earthly things" Colossians 3:2. Another convicting reminder is found in, Isaiah 26:3, "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." Here's one of my new favorites, "and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" 2 Corinthians 10:5b.
But how do we make this a practical application in our personal lives? My friend would often say, "Pray for me; my mind is in the gutter!" And I'd sometimes wonder exactly what she meant. I could only imagine, but I knew that it wasn't good. Yet, because I could relate, I knew that she was referring to the battlefield in our minds. Because, indeed, any follower of Christ, if honest, would have to admit to not always having righteous thoughts. If we took a flight into one another's minds, I'm afraid, we'd quickly learn to skydive just to come out of that turbulence. In fact, at times we are so overwhelmed by ungodly thoughts that we feel depleted. Maybe defeated and stuck. I know I've been there too many times. I've fallen victim to negative thoughts, blindsided by self-accusing contemplations. The mind can be a fragile thing, and still it is a centerpiece to what makes us who we are. And so when we behave irrationally, or lash out, or become worrisome, bitter, angry, lonely, etc., we can usually find that these depleting emotions and actions originate in our minds.
But there is a bright side to this ongoing spiritual dilemma. There is a hope to be found. You see, those thoughts will come, at times uninvited. But we do not have to welcome them in and make them feel at home. Actually, we have the ability to leave them right at the door of our minds, and instead, replace unruly, negative, or self-defeating thoughts with God-given truths. There is so much power in the word of God, and still so much of it is left untouched. And Satan knows that. So he does a good job at keeping us from God's word. And our minds, are his target, and our minds can easily become his playing field. You see, Satan wants us to think that our thoughts govern us and that we do not have control over them. He wants us to feel helpless and incapable of truly living a life that honors God and brings us joy. And he brings on the distractions simply to keep us from becoming empowered by the word of God.
The word of God is our fuel. It is our refreshment and bread of life. It is our light and compass. It empowers us to do the things that are humanly impossible. And while our thought life may consist crippling ideas or enslaving lies, the word of God is so filled with truths. Truths that define our identity in Christ. Truths that equip us to do what is right. Truths that liberate and free us! Therefore, I leave you with this, the best advice I can give you. The same advice I gave myself the other day. Open up the word of God, and maybe start with... "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." Philippians 4:8.