May I ask you a personal question? What are your thoughts like when you first wake up? Frankly, mine are not always positive, helpful or encouraging. At that moment I have a decision to make. Will I continue to entertain the moldering leftovers from that weird dream? Or will I push myself out of bed and author a constructive path for my mind?
“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).
Clearly, we are in a life-long “battle for the mind. At times, this battlefield is a weedy jungle of depressive thoughts, self-condemnation, lust, frustration with myself and others, resentment, irritations, insecurity, self-pity, and temptations to judge or reject others. That is when I must take charge of my thought life and insist that the choice is mine!
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Messiah” (II Corinthians 10:4-5).
Here are three keys to managing our thought life:
- God thinks, and we think because we’re made in His image. “I know the thoughts I think toward you, thoughts of peace and not of evil” (Jeremiah 29:11).
- God knows what I am thinking. “You know my sitting down and my rising up. You understand my thought afar off” (Psalm 139:2). Therefore,
- The key to a healthy, fertile mind is an open conversation with God. “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
It helps to remember that our faith heroes also wrestled with their thoughts. King David told himself “Why are you cast down, o my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him…” (Psalm 42:5). “From the end of the earth I will cry to you. When my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2).
Even the great Apostle Paul acknowledged his mental anguish. “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble … we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead” (II Corinthians 1:8-9).
Both of these spiritual giants reacted to the battle in their mind by turning back to God, by declaring their undiluted trust for Him. I too need to proclaim the truth in the face of lies (Psalm 1:3; Joshua 1:8; Philippians 4:6-8). I must use praise and worship as a restorative weapon (II Chronicles 20:17-22). And finally, I can enlist the aid of a trusted friend or mentor when I’m being choked by “jungle vines” (Proverbs 17:17; 27:9).