Philippians 4:8 (NLT) And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Thinking good things even works for non-believers and sceptics just think of what it will do for you. When you think only of the good things you allow the fruit of the Spirit to flourish in and through you.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
When we do this we are able to push those feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression into the background and focus on the things of God.
We are what we think, and our lives, attitudes, feelings, reactions, results, failures, successes, and personalities are formed by the strands of thought that tie our brain cells together like baling wire. This is so self-evident it’s been at the heart of philosophy and religion from the beginning of human civilization.
Even non-Christians know this. The Hindus taught, “Man becomes that of which he thinks.” The Buddha said, “The mind is everything: what you think you become.” Marcus Aurelius said, “Your life is what your thoughts make it.” Descartes wrote: “I think, therefore I am.” The nineteenth-century Unitarian preacher William Channing wrote: “All that a man does outwardly is but the expression and completion of his inward thought.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson summed it up nicely, saying, “A man is what he thinks about all day long.”
William James laid the foundation for today’s motivational movement and positive-thinking literature with these simple words: “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.”
The homespun British philosopher James Allen wrote:
A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts. . . . Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bad fruit. . . . Let a man radically alter his thoughts, and he will be astonished at the rapid transformation it will effect in the material conditions of his life. Men imagine that thought can be kept secret, but it cannot; it rapidly crystallizes into habit, and habit solidifies into circumstances.
Allen added, “As the physically weak man can make himself strong by careful and patient training, so the man of weak thoughts can make them strong by exercising himself in right thinking.” - From Avoid Ministry Burnout, Think On These Things)
By Tracie Miles
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Romans 12:2a (NLT)
If we allow our minds to be shaped by negative thoughts, we are headed straight toward a life lacking peace, joy and hope. But, when we humbly admit our need for change and invite Christ to renew our minds — one thought at a time — we are blessed with the ability to enjoy life, despite its challenges. Although it might seem difficult at first, it is possible to change the way we think if we commit to three easy steps:
1. Recognize Negative Thoughts.
Each time a negative thought enters your mind, make note of how you’re feeling. Ask yourself things like: Does this thought help me in any way? Does it make me happy, or does it steal my peace? Is this a problem God can’t handle, or am I assuming it’s too big for Him? (Trick question: Nothing is too big for God!) Is it even true according to God’s Word? Asking God to make us aware of our negative thoughts is the first step to learning to control them.
2. Reject Negative Thoughts.
Once you learn to be aware of your negative thoughts, you can begin to combat them and fight back. Each time you notice a negative thought, aim to pause and reject it. Remind yourself not to focus on the negativity, and instead, try to focus on something positive. If you’ve decided it’s not really true, don’t allow yourself to entertain it anymore. If that negative thought is stealing your peace, refuse to give it power over your joy, peace or happiness, much less your life. Take control of what you’re thinking, rather than letting your thoughts run rampant. Then, turn that negative thought around.
3. Replace Negative Thoughts.
If something bad happens to us, we don’t have to believe we have a bad life. When we experience something positive in the morning but have to deal with something negative in the afternoon, we have the choice to decide whether we’ve had a good or bad day overall. If someone hurts our feelings, we can forgive and refuse to let it fester in our thoughts and steal our confidence. If someone insults us, we can focus on our positive attributes and remember what God’s Word says about us is most important.
Each time we notice our minds are wandering to a place where discouragement, sadness, fear, anger or negativity reside, we have the authority and the power to choose to reject those negative thoughts and shift them to be more positive.
Lord, How I Long To Break Free From Negative Thinking And Embrace Peace And Joy And Optimism. I Invite You To Begin Transforming My Thought Patterns And Help Me Recognize, Reject And Replace Thoughts That Are Not Pleasing To You.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Editor’s Note: Some content taken from the Encouragement for Today devotional, “3 Easy Steps to Transforming Your Mind and Your Life,” written by Tracie Miles.