In the comic strip "Pogo" back in the 1960's, Walt Kelly had his character make a famous statement: "We have met the enemy and he is us." While this quote referred to a political statement the artist was making at the time, we would do well as Christians to look at how we often undermine ourselves on a daily basis through negative thinking. We tell ourselves things like, "I could never do that" or "I think it is impossible to accomplish". Most often, we are our own worst enemies.
Thinking back to high school days, how many of us would come home with hurt feelings because someone looked at us funny. No words were exchanged but we were certain that we must have done something wrong. When I would get those ideas, my mother used to say "Maybe they ate something that didn't agree with them and it had nothing to do with you." I now can laugh about how silly I was to assume something without any confirmation, but at the time, my mind would run wild. The Bible calls these "vain imaginations". 2 Corinthians 10:5 reads: "5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;..."
When we allow our thoughts free rein in our life, we can draw many inaccurate conclusions. This is why it is so important to focus our thinking on God's Word. Because we were born with a sin nature, our minds can easily revert to old patterns of negative thinking even as Christians. God has made us new creations, but we still carry with us the "old nature" that can raise its ugly head from time to time. This is why Paul told the Corinthians to bring every thought into captivity to Christ.
In his letter to the believers at Philippi, Paul wrote these excellent words (Philippians 4:7-9): "7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." Looking at this verse, we notice, first, that Paul tells us that it is God who guards our hearts and minds. He is our peace giver and we can rest on that promise. As we choose to dwell on good things we find in God's Word and have in our relationship with Christ, we will experience the peace of which he speaks. Our problems come when we start to fill our minds with what the world tells us as versus what God says we are in Christ.
Just think about all the propaganda we listen to every day on the radio or T.V. If we use a certain toothpaste, we will keep a beautiful smile. Wearing a certain line of clothing means we are in style or having the right car makes us more popular. Then consider all the misinformation we hear concerning ideas, beliefs and politics. Is it any wonder that our imaginations run wild and we become distressed over things? We know that worry is a sin. Jesus told us "not to worry" in His Sermon on the Mount. So Paul's words to the Corinthians and to the Philippians speak to the problem with have with our minds.
In His final prayer before He laid down His life to free us from sin, Jesus prayed for us these words in John 17:17: "“Father, sanctify them by your truth, because your word is truth.” Reading, absorbing, memorizing, and meditating on God's Word is what will keep our thinking straight as we walk through this difficult world. After reading the Word, we need to pray for God's insight and wisdom so we may bring our thoughts captive to Him. It is a challenge I admit especially in this age of social media and electronic gadgets that can keep us occupied for hours. However, we will miss the peace of God if we do not learn to think God's thoughts after Him.
With this thought, I close. What we read, watch on T.V., the movies we view, the games we play and the company we keep, all has an effect on our thinking. We can either fill our minds with the world or with the truth of God. The choice is ours. We do not have to live in fear, worry or concern, if we follow what the Apostle Paul has laid out for us to do as believers. Selah!