“The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.” Jesus, Luke 6:45
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23
What do you think about when you’re not thinking about anything in particular? Where does your mind go when you are mentally “in neutral” and don’t have a specific thought to focus on? Do your thoughts go toward…
- hopes, dreams, anticipations?
- loved ones, friends, people you enjoy?
- to-do lists, jobs to be completed, action items to check off?
- regrets, disappointments, sorrows?
- grudges, enemies, frustrations?
- scrolling through social media on your phone?
Your thoughts can travel in a number of directions, each of which could dramatically change your day for good or for ill. If you focus primarily on negative emotions, dark thoughts, gloomy memories, and detrimental relationships, your day will proceed very differently than if you center on being grateful, expressing appreciation, practicing thankfulness, and looking out for the good.
In his most joyful letter, written from prison to a church in conflict as he faced the possibility of martyrdom, Paul exhorted the Philippian believers to be mindful of their thoughts: “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Such a spiritual discipline could be a tremendous blessing to us as we live in a world ravaged by anger, negativity, pettiness, grudges, injustice, and bitterness. For the next three Sundays, our sermon series, “Think on These Things,” will focus on Paul’s words in Philippians 4:8-9, inviting us to think nobler, clearer, and better thoughts. Ralph Waldo Emerson offered this observation on the power of a single thought: “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and reap a destiny.” May we remember the importance of what we choose to ruminate and meditate on. And may our transformed thinking empower us to be a greater blessing in our world!