Focus – Just a Thought
by Lt. Amanda Reardon –
I thought “The Truman Show” was a pretty good movie. It was about a man whose entire life, unbeknownst to him, was broadcast live across the nation. Everything he did, everything he said, was televised–from infancy until he was in his early 30s, when he finally realized what was happening and put a stop to it. As I sat watching the movie, I thought: “What could be more horrific than having my every move and every word made public to an entire country?” I came up with one even more dreadful idea: having my every thought made public.
The idea of others having the ability to know our thoughts is frightening. Naturally, we don’t want others to know the unclean and unkind thoughts that run through our heads. If people could read these, they would know who we really are, because what we think defines who we are. After all, while people are busy sizing us up by what we do, how we look, and the things we say, God looks inside to see the real us (I Samuel 16:7b). Because God looks at the “heart” (not literally that blood pumping organ–the Bible uses the “heart” to symbolize our thoughts and feelings), we know that the definition of ourselves is found within.
Bearing this in mind, it would follow then that holy living is not so much about the manifestation of a thought as it is about the thought itself. Our holiness originates with how with think, and righteous thinking is the most important part of holiness. Maybe that sounds a little crazy. One might say, “Isn’t it a worse sin to have an affair than to think about having an affair?” Jesus said: “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) “But doesn’t actually having an affair hurt more people than just thinking about it?” one may ask. Indeed, but James 1:15 says: “After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” The reason the thought is so dangerous is because when our thoughts aren’t kept in check, they gain control of us and they lead us into sin. If you can stop the thought, you can prevent the sin. Romans 12:2 says: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Note that the verse does not say we are transformed by the renewing of our actions. Renew the mind, and the actions will fall in line.
It is not an easy task to keep the mind pure. The enemy sees to it that we are mentally assaulted at every turn. I saw a television commercial recently that was aimed at children. Its message was that kids have the right to demand what they want to eat and parents are obliged to supply it. This advertisement attempted to plant in my child’s mind the unbibilical idea that children control their parents. That notion is further highlighted by a number of popular shows that maintain that adults are idiots and children are far more knowledgeable and clever. While driving our little singing company members home recently, I was saddened (but not surprised) to hear indecent things coming from their mouths as they sang a pop tune. Some of the music they listen to promotes violence and hatred, as well as inappropriate sexual activity. These are only a few examples of the way Christians are bombarded with unholy messages that seek to grab a foothold in our minds.
How can we prevent the pollution of our minds? Philippians 4:8 says: “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.” Saturate yourself! Fill your mind so full of good things that there is no room for anything else! Christians are to meditate on Scripture day and night, to pray without ceasing, to edify one another through clean, wholesome conversation. We also have such luxuries as Christian books and Christian music.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we would stop nursing our unholy thoughts and start enjoying purity of thought? Why do we so often dwell on and even revel in impure thoughts when godly thinking is so much more gratifying? Satan dangles an ungodly thought before us as a fisherman entices a fish with his bait. Once we take a bite, he reels us in. We find that what promised us so much pleasure produces our own discomfort and unhappiness in the end, as unholy thoughts lead to sin, and sin leads to its unpleasant consequences of all types. If our thoughts don’t lead us into blatantly sinful actions, they can still lead us into sinful mindsets like bitterness, envy, pride and covetousness. Even these sinful mindsets can make us miserable people.
It’s just another case of Satan trying to rob us of God’s best for us. Satan knows that nothing will provide greater satisfaction in our lives than a holy walk with our Savior. And Satan, who will never find personal satisfaction for himself, is trying to guarantee that we won’t either. We make Satan the loser as “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (II Cor. 10:5). Why hang on to something so destructive? After all, it’s just a thought.