Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
In Part 1 we saw that our thought life is very important. We continue looking at negative thinking in this part. We mentioned self-pity and blaming and there are two other things that I’d like you to think about.
Four kinds of negative thinking (Cont.)
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 behaviour can’t be your own fault. So you never have to face it honestly. This person says something like:
- It’s no use trying. I’ll never change.
- I have every right to be hurt and I’m not going to give it up.
- I know it’s wrong but I’m not going to stop.
- 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. Your thoughts matter! Negative thinking leads to negative living.
A way to overcome negative thinking
But there is a better way. And the Bible has the answer, as recorded by Paul in Philippians 4:8: Fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, and whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy.
Remember: You’re not what you think you are, but what you think, you are. You may have heard this saying before, but it’s accurate. Only with God’s help can you change negative thinking into positive thinking. Proverbs 23:7 says, for as he thinks in his heart, so is he”.
What you think today, you become tomorrow. Your mind is the best predictor of your future. If you dwell on your problems, they will soon overwhelm you:
- If you feel like a victim, soon you will become one.
- If you give way to worry, don’t be surprised when you get ulcers.
- If you think low thoughts, low living is soon to follow.
- If you expect defeat, you’ll probably lose.
- If you dwell on rejection, you will set yourself up for even more rejection.
- If you focus on how others misunderstand you, you will soon become angry and bitter.
The Bible exhorts us to focus on good and pure thoughts, for as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
What goes in must come out. Sooner or later your thoughts translate into reality. The flip side is also true:
- If you focus on the truth, you will speak the truth.
- If you look on noble things, nobility will mark your life.
- If you seek out lovely things, your life will be lovely to others.
- If you dwell on that which is right, that which is wrong will have no attraction to you.
- If you think on pure things, you will become pure.
- If you look for virtue, you will find it.
- If you search for higher things, you will elevate your own life.
Here is God’s prescription for Christians trapped in unhealthy living: Think on these things! Focus on the good, the pure, the true, the holy, the right, the lovely. Find those things that elevate the mind and think on them! Do you want to change your mind? You can. God has put the possibility within your grasp. You don’t have to stay the way you are.
Lay hold of Jesus by faith. Walk with him. Talk with him. Learn of him. Hold on and don’t let go. Take Christ into your mind. Enthrone him in your mind. Then you will find it easy to think on these things. Do that and your life will never be the same!