That used to be a popular saying – “a penny for your thoughts.” Turns out though, our thoughts are worth much more than mere pennies. Our thoughts determine our character, our actions, the way we live and the way we see the world –
“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:” (Proverbs 23:7 – KJV)
Our thoughts can have power over us, or we can have power over our thoughts. It is a constant battle, but a battle we can win with God’s help and good advice from His word. We win when we control our thoughts rather than our thoughts controlling us. At least that’s the premise of an author I was reading recently, Tom Hughes. In his book, “Down to Earth” Hughes states,
“Self-talk is something we all do. But it’s important to think about what you talk to yourself about. To live differently, you have to think differently. To think differently, you have to monitor your thoughts – your self-talk. . . . man’s upcoming actions result directly from his thinking.”
So, if I want my life to be different, I have to change my thoughts. This is because my thoughts precede and even determine my actions. If I think differently, I will act differently. If I act differently, my life will be different. Therefore, if I wish to change my life, I must first change my thoughts. Paul said as much in his letter to the church in Rome when he wrote –
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)
My thoughts can renew and transform me, or my thoughts can destroy me or they can hold me captive, especially if they are thoughts that lead to fear, anxiety, depression, shame, self-doubt, unforgiveness – if they are thoughts based on the lies of the enemy of my soul. This must be why Paul gave these instructions in his letter to the Philippians –
“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. . . . And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)
Paul also tells the Colossians this –
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:2-4)
These instructions remind me that I can choose my thoughts and I can choose to change them. I can be intentional about my thoughts and where they lead me. In 2 Corinthians 10:5 I am told to –
“take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
We used to be told – “you are what you eat!” It would seem to me that – “I am what I think!” or “I become what I think!” In Proverbs 4:23 I read,
“Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.” (NCV)
So true. I must examine my thoughts in order to determine which ones are beneficial and which ones are detrimental to me. Paul’s list in Philippians is a good guide for me when I am trying to determine which thoughts to dwell on and which thoughts to discard. Paul’s standard on thoughts worth keeping? Is it true? Is it noble? Is it right? Is it pure? Is it lovely, or admirable? Is it excellent or praiseworthy? These are thoughts worth thinking and continuing to think about.
As I think about the high school students I see every day, I often see that they are surrounded by lots of negative thinking. They put each other down and they put themselves down. Then our culture comes in via constant media messages making them feel even worse about themselves. Constant comparison to false images of supposed perfection causes them anxiety, depression, loss of self-confidence, thinking that they will never measure up or be accepted – these thoughts lead to destructive actions on their parts which lead to negative life consequences. Changing what they think about, what they fill their minds with, would change their actions which would in turn change their lives.
This is why learning overcomers’ stories and focusing on those inspiring individuals who are examples of succeeding in spite of adversity, fill students’ minds with thoughts of hope and possibility, rather than thoughts of despair and victimhood. Who their heroes are impacts their thoughts and consequently, their lives. Are their heroes overcomers who inspire and help others or are their heroes victims who feel everyone owes them and that they are entitled to what they have not earned? What thoughts we fill our minds with really does make a difference in our lives. That’s why God’s word tells me to “take captive my every thought.” I also find this promise in Isaiah –
“You (God) will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3 – NKJV)
I like the NLT translation of this verse –
“You (God) will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!”
If I fix my thoughts on my Heavenly Father, His promise to me is that I will experience His perfect peace. In Philippians, this peace is called “the peace that passes understanding” because it doesn’t make sense humanly speaking. It is one of God’s good gifts to us, this peace that doesn’t depend on our current earthly circumstances. God gives us His peace when our minds, our thoughts, are fixed on Him. God’s peace replaces the anxiety and fear that I experience when my thoughts are fixed on what is going on in the world around me rather than on Him and on the wisdom, truth and promises in His Living Word. In Joshua I read what he said to the Israelites –
“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:8)
They were told what to “meditate”, what to “think” on, not just randomly, not just now and then, but “day and night.” If they follow Joshua’s instruction about what they should be thinking about, (God’s law) they are promised prosperity and success. This result is possible because their thoughts will translate into their actions, and their actions will result in them being prosperous and successful.
This battle for our minds is very real, dear readers. Satan knows if he can gain control of our thoughts, then he has access to our actions, to the choices that we make, which in the end, determine our eternal endpoint. What starts as a mere thought, can end up as a life choice. (ie. the thought, “I have been forgiven!” – result when I constantly remember this true thought? – I live without that burden of guilt and I am able to forgive others because I, myself have experienced forgiveness) That’s why what I choose to think about matters so much. Which thoughts I choose to discard and which thoughts I choose to dwell on, will determine my destiny. Hopefully, I will discard the lies and dwell on the truth.
To that end, Lord, make me like the person described in Psalm 1:1-3 –
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”
and let me say with the psalmist –
“Oh, how I love Your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on Your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey Your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey Your word. I have not departed from Your laws, for You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:97-103)
sincerely, Grace Day
One thought on “a penny for your thoughts”
This blog is such an important one. Every action starts with a thought. When we can really practice booting out those negative thoughts and replacing them by making a conscience choice to ..think on what is good and noble things as you mentioned, it impacts our moods and our disposition. Our thoughts are a real life changer to how we live our life.