By Zack DeBerry
Just because you are a follower of Jesus Christ does not mean that you will not be tempted or ever have a bad thought enter your mind. I want to be clear to let you know that you are human and as such will have to daily battle thoughts that will try to dictate your actions. Let me also be clear that just because you have a bad thought enter your mind, you are not doomed. There is a difference between a thought entering into your mind and allowing that thought to become rooted in your mind to the point that it becomes action in your life.
Proverbs 4:23 states, “23Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Part of our heart is our mind and what we allow to enter our minds can ‘determine the course of your life’. When you read that verse, it reveals the serious nature of what is at stake in the battleground of our thoughts. Luckily, there are some ways that we can combat thoughts that enter our minds and can allow us to overcome thoughts that will take our life off course. Here are just a few things that can help you manage your thoughts.
1. Read God’s Word
There is no better way to combat sinful thoughts than to know what God says about them and to be ready to recall scriptures to help you overcome those thoughts. We will only recall what we have read consistently and this is one of the best ways to overcome a thought in your mind. When you begin to go down a path that would lead to sinful actions, just recall God’s word and remind yourself who you are in Jesus Christ.
2. Start Everyday With a Dependence on God
One of the greatest things you can do to combat your thought life is to realize that you can not overcome them on your own. We must get to a point where we recognize our weaknesses and realize that God sent His Son to pay the price for our failures, and His Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us as we walk through the challenges of everyday. Before your feet hit the floor in the morning, ask God to help you manage your thoughts for the day by the power of His Holy Spirit and trust in the grace that has been given in the cross of Jesus Christ.
3. Guard Your Eyes and Ears
What we watch and listen to will many times dictate where our thoughts go. It is important to filter the things you look at and listen to if you are to properly manage your thought life. It isn’t easy, but it is essential to run everything through the filter of, “Does this honor God?” Now, I am not talking about disengaging from all of culture and living a life of solitary confinement, but I do think it is wise to filter what we see and hear.
4. Focus on Pursuing God First
This sort of goes with number 2, but it is a little more about trying to NOT mess up. Like we talked about in our message Sunday, when we focus on trying NOT to think something, it is all we can think about. Instead of trying NOT to think about certain things, focus your energy on Pursuing God. Philippians 4:8 gives some great instruction for us about what we should focus on:
“8 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.”
When we let our primary focus become pursuing God our thoughts will surely begin to turn from other things to God’s plans.
5. Live in Community
This is where many people have a difficult time when it comes to our thoughts. We fear what others may think about us if they could see our thoughts. However, it is only in true community with others that we can experience freedom from sinful thoughts. There are many passages of scripture that promote community as a way of encouragement. Here are two of my favorite:
Proverbs 27:17- “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
Hebrews 10:24-25- “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
When it comes to battling sinful thoughts, there is nothing better than a trusted friend and community that you can be open and honest with about our struggles. God never intended for us to do life alone. Find someone you can be honest with about your struggles and the thoughts that may be creeping into your mind.
These are just a few things that I have found helpful in the times where my mind begins to wander to places that I know are not good for me. I hope that you can find something in this list that will help you in your struggle to manage your thoughts. Remember that God gave us the Holy spirit to comfort and guide us, and He gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, to cover and empower us to overcome whatever battles we are facing in this life.