Stop. What were you just thinking about? Was it positive? Negative? Would it qualify as “true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and of good repute” (Phil. 4:8)?
Our minds are amazing problem-solving machines. They invented the wheel, discovered fire. We can troubleshoot like no other creature. But that can be a problem sometimes. If we think about fixing wrongs too much, we can forget to remember the good things that have gone right.
Like an athlete who has over-trained a certain set of muscles and neglected others, our minds can become unbalanced. Too much time focusing on negative issues drag us into critical thoughts and behaviors. (What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I fix this problem?) Therefore, we must cross-train our supporting muscles of gratitude, forgiveness, grace, mercy, and the like.
How do we do that? By filling our minds with the truth of Scripture. As Dr. Stanley says in this month’s From the Pastor’s Heart letter:
God’s Word assures us that there is no condemnation for those in Christ. Since our emotions flow from our thoughts, we need to fill our minds with God’s truths. This may take some time, but if we’ll persist in replacing condemning thoughts with verses from the Bible that assure us of God’s forgiveness and love, in time our emotions will begin to align with His truth.
We’ve got to pay attention to our chain of thoughts. They reveal our true beliefs and influence our actions. As James noted, it’s got to be faith and works (James 2:14-26). They go together. You can’t just say you believe. You’ve got to believe God’s Word—and then act like you do.
When we believe the truth about ourselves, we can be and do all that God has planned for us. It frees us from overwhelming negative emotions when we remember we can have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). And we can have peace knowing we don’t have to figure everything out on our own. God will equip us to handle the challenges He puts before us in due time—and that’s a good thought to dwell on.
Dr. Stanley shares more about overcoming condemning thoughts in this month’s From the Pastor’s Heart letter.