A Change of Mind. Day fifteen...
When it comes to any one of the foolish things of man, if I haven't done it, I've probably thought about doing it. But alcohol is one temptation that's never affected me. Alcohol, however, has been a big problem for some of those in the classes I teach, and I've wanted to better understand the journey from sober to drunk.
On numerous occasions I have asked the question: “On those days when you got drunk, when did you start thinking about it?” And almost unanimously the answer has been: “When I woke up that morning.”
Somehow we have the mistaken idea that as long as we don't act out harmful thoughts then we're okay to think those thoughts.
But if we are thinking about something destructive, we're being controlled by it just the same as if we were doing it.
We may not be making as big of a mess in thinking about it as in actually doing it, but it's still controlling us. It's a lot easier, for instance, to clean up adultery in one's head than it is in one's bed, but adultery is in control either way.
Recently a young man came to me after a class, and was just obsessed about trying to quit smoking. Frankly, I thought he had a few more pressing problems than tobacco, but smoking was on his mind. After listening to him for a while, I asked the question, “Did you know that even though you aren't smoking right now, tobacco is still controlling you?” He looked a little surprised, but after a little more explanation he began to realize that the thought was controlling him just as much as the action.
Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life. (Proverbs 4:23 NCV)
“Thoughts” (our way of thinking) result in “ways” (our way of acting).
Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.” (Haggai 1:5 NIV)
Our ways (our actions) are controlled by our thoughts. We need to give careful thought to our ways. When we change our thoughts we change our ways.
Even those sudden outbursts—those seemingly spontaneous words and actions hurled at other people—would not happen unless the conditions for such an explosion were already in place. (By definition, spontaneous combustion is an inner pre‐existing condition that causes a fire. Whether it's piling up oil‐soaked rags, organic matter, or destructive thoughts—given enough time and a big enough pile, the thing will eventually burst into flames.)
If we want to change who we are we must change what we think.
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. (Proverbs 23:7a NKJV)
God has His thoughts and ways. We have our thoughts and ways. And they are not the same.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8‐9 NLT)
As we have talked about over the last few days, Jesus is our example. He walked this earth in the likeness of man to be our example. But we spend more time trying to act like Him than we do trying to think like Him.
Try handing out “What Would Jesus Do?” wristbands to a few people. Ask them what the phrase means. With a few possible exceptions, the answers will all be about acting like Jesus, and not about thinking like Jesus—even for the Christians in the group. But can you see the problem in trying to act like Jesus without trying to think like Him?
We can't act like Jesus when we're thinking like us.
Action follows thought. When we are intentional about thinking like Jesus we will unintentionally start acting like Him.
Have a good day,