Think On These Things

How sad that we devote so much time to how we spend our money and so little time to how we spend our thoughts. How sad that one seems so important and the other so trivial.

But are your thoughts really so important?

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Beware of what you set your mind on because that you surely will become.”

So many people struggle with negative thinking. Negative thoughts poison the mind, and ultimately the soul.

Here are four common examples of negative thinking:

1. Self-Pity

We all fall into this trap sooner or later. Life is hard for all of us. As the saying goes, into each life some rain must fall. It’s easy to think that somehow we’ve been dealt an unfair hand, that while our neighbor is basking in sunshine, we’re living in a perpetual downpour. This self-pitying person says, “You don’t know what I’m going through” or “You try living with this 24 hours a day and see how happy you are.”

2. Blaming

This is the other extreme. Blaming is an attempt to find a scapegoat for your problems. You can’t face life on your own, so you find another person who seems to be the source of your problems. It might be your husband or your wife, it could be your children or your parents. It often is a friend, a neighbor, or your boss or someone at church. Blaming is dangerous because it leads to perpetual victimhood.

3. Unwillingness to Change

This more or less follows from the first two categories. Once you immerse yourself in self-pity and once you discover that you are a victim, the logical conclusion is that you can’t or won’t change. Unfortunately, this type of negative thinking tends to reinforce itself. Since you can’t change, then your behavior can’t be your own fault. So you never have to face it honestly. This person says, “It’s no use trying. I’ll never change” and “I have every right to be hurt and I’m not going to give it up” or “I know it’s wrong but I’m not going to stop” or “God made me this way so it’s not my fault.”

4. Anger and Bitterness

Usually, this is the logical outcome. Once you begin to pity yourself, you become a victim. But victims can’t be blamed, right? Therefore you refuse to face the possibility that you yourself are the source of your own problems. When others suggest otherwise, you get angry, defensive and bitter. You remember every miserable thing ever done to you or against you. You stew in your juices over the slightest negative remark made by others. You bristle at any notion that your life could be different. You hold grudges—even though you say you don’t. You glare and turn your head when you see your enemy coming toward you. You shut them out cold.

Before you think and before you speak, ask these six questions.

1. Self-Pity

We all fall into this trap sooner or later. Life is hard for all of us. As the saying goes, into each life some rain must fall. It’s easy to think that somehow we’ve been dealt an unfair hand, that while our neighbor is basking in sunshine, we’re living in a perpetual downpour. This self-pitying person says, “You don’t know what I’m going through” or “You try living with this 24 hours a day and see how happy you are.”

2. Blaming

This is the other extreme. Blaming is an attempt to find a scapegoat for your problems. You can’t face life on your own, so you find another person who seems to be the source of your problems. It might be your husband or your wife, it could be your children or your parents. It often is a friend, a neighbor, or your boss or someone at church. Blaming is dangerous because it leads to perpetual victimhood.

3. Unwillingness to Change

This more or less follows from the first two categories. Once you immerse yourself in self-pity and once you discover that you are a victim, the logical conclusion is that you can’t or won’t change. Unfortunately, this type of negative thinking tends to reinforce itself. Since you can’t change, then your behavior can’t be your own fault. So you never have to face it honestly. This person says, “It’s no use trying. I’ll never change” and “I have every right to be hurt and I’m not going to give it up” or “I know it’s wrong but I’m not going to stop” or “God made me this way so it’s not my fault.”

4. Anger and Bitterness

Usually, this is the logical outcome. Once you begin to pity yourself, you become a victim. But victims can’t be blamed, right? Therefore you refuse to face the possibility that you yourself are the source of your own problems. When others suggest otherwise, you get angry, defensive and bitter. You remember every miserable thing ever done to you or against you. You stew in your juices over the slightest negative remark made by others. You bristle at any notion that your life could be different. You hold grudges—even though you say you don’t. You glare and turn your head when you see your enemy coming toward you. You shut them out cold.

“Finally, brothers, 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

Before you think and before you speak, ask these six questions.

1. Is it true?

“Whatever is true.” Truth is the first test. Knox translates this as “all other rings true.” Before you open your mouth, are you speaking the truth? Do your words have the “ring of truth” about them? This question rules out all that is dishonest, untrue and unreliable.

2. Is it noble?

“Whatever is noble.” The word means “honorable, worthy of reverence.” It refers to that which is majestic and awe-inspiring. One person translated it as “noble seriousness.” This word is used in another place to describe the proper qualities of an elder. Is your thought life honorable? Do you ponder things that are noble and of serious purpose? Or do you dwell on the frivolous and trivial?

3. Is it right? “Whatever is right.”

This means “in conformity to God’s standards.” Not, “Is it right in my eyes?” or “Is it right in the eyes of others?” but “Is it right in God’s eyes?” If your thoughts were broadcast for the world to hear, would you be ashamed and embarrassed? If others knew what you were thinking, what would they think of you?

If your thoughts were broadcast for the world to hear, would you be embarrassed?

4. Is it pure? “Whatever is pure.”

The word means “undefiled, chaste, clean, holy.” It touches the whole area of moral purity. Is your thought-life clean? We used to say, “Get your mind out of the gutter.” If you live in the gutter, don’t be surprised that your mind is covered with slime.

5. Is it lovely?

“Whatever is lovely.” This word is used only here in the New Testament. It literally means “love towards.” It has the idea of attracting loveliness as a magnet attracts iron filings. One person translates it as “those things that grace attracts.” Do your thoughts automatically attach themselves to that which is beautiful and lovely? A thought may be true and even right but still not be lovely. Here’s a simple rule: If it’s not lovely, if it doesn’t make you lovely, don’t say it, don’t think it, don’t do it, don’t dwell on it, and don’t repeat it!

6. Is it admirable?

“Whatever is admirable.” That is, is it worthy of study and contemplation? Or is it cheap and tawdry? This question asks us to focus on the things that are positive, not negative, constructive not destructive, things that build up not the things that tear down. This means editing your words so that you simply delete the non-admirable things from your vocabulary.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says, that we should “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Examine the Influence of your friends. I Corinthians 15:13 warns us that “bad company corrupts good character.”

Change your diet of trashy novels, cheap TV, soap operas, trivial conversations, and living off gossip and salacious rumors.

Begin to Memorize Scripture.

Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

Final Word: If you are a Christian, you have within you the power to do this.

Source:

Keep Believing Ministries, www.keepbelieving.com

In † Christian Love, Susan Osten