It is not my intentions to exegete the following passages, I only want to share some thoughts that they have inspired. Although I do believe that what I write can be application of these passages.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12.2
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; 2 Corinthians 10.5
Philippians 4.8… whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
If we are honest with ourselves we can admit to our judgmental and cynical thinking. I am the biggest judge of all. Even though I write about kindness and love I still battle with my cynical and judgmental thoughts about others. Will it ever end? There are days that I cannot see the best in people, days when my mind is clouded with anger and judgment. And honestly, I recognize my own faults, but when I am in a judgmental mood it does not seem to matter.
Conforming to worldliness promotes self. We are thinking worldly when we think that we can do better than others, that we are better than others, when we desire a life independent from God, or when we begin to think that we are capable of living independently. We may not always specifically think in this way, but when we neglect prayer and mediation we fail to obey the command to renew our mind. We receive life as we experience the love, wisdom, goodness, and grace of God. This does not happen when we are passionate about our own abilities, concerns, or needs. We can only know if our thinking is correct as we judge our thinking against God’s standard. But most of the time we judge other people and we set that standard ourselves. And most of the time that standard is more consistent with what we think about the Bible, or what we have heard a preacher say about the Bible, rather than what the Bible says. We find opportunity to justify our cynical and judgmental thinking.
A lot of times our imagination can run wild, especially when it involves thinking about other people. Can you relate to what I am writing? We overhear someone say something (in a conversation we are not part of), someone may something directly to us, and we can often confuse what people say with what they mean. I admit, most people are not good at communicating, and neither am I. When we are a victim of a look, or a laugh, our minds can torture us. Do we tell ourselves things are not fair? I hear that phrase from my students all of the time. How often do we think that we deserve more? Human nature is basically the same, we all want more. Whether it is success, money, approval, love, or respect, we all want more. Are you aware of that, am I? We need to be, if we are going to win the battle of the mind. Our selfish thoughts will actually compete with what we know about God. Eve experienced this, didn’t she? Sometimes we just have to obey, regardless of what we think about things. Our thinking can be wrong, and it is wrong most of the time. Which is why Paul emphasizes the renewing of the mind, bringing every thought into captivity. Let’s put this into perspective, let the lion out of the zoo. What will happen? Don’t you prefer viewing the lions from the other side of the cage or glass? I do. Now think about the destructive nature of our thoughts when they roam free.
Since we know that our thoughts can be dangerous to ourselves and others, then we must be careful to analyze the source of our thoughts. We know that we are quite capable of producing our own wicked thoughts. And since this is true we should be careful about what we allow into our mind. We should be fearful about listening to gossip, shouldn’t we? Because gossip will cause us to think poorly of others, and to think better of ourselves. We know that type of thinking is prideful and sinful. What we view on television and film can also be detrimental to our thought life. Many adults tell me, I can understand not exposing my child to cursing, violence, and sexuality; but I am old enough and mature enough to view such things. Are you, am I? I am often frustrated by the popularity of the forensics and crime shows on television. I understand the interest in forensic science. But have you ever thought about the fact that many of the crimes are sexual in nature? Do you really think that God is pleased when we view the dismembered, tortured, and disturbing images of the victims?
Do you really think that God is pleased when we view hundreds, perhaps thousands (in our lifetime) of episodes or movies that include steamy scenes of casual sex? Producers don’t even have the decency to keep sexuality within the boundaries of marriage. And we shouldn’t view that either, it is still sin. I wonder if actors and actresses allow their children to watch their shows and films. How do they explain their nudity and sexuality with someone other than mommy or daddy? I have had students tell me such things are okay, because they are actors acting out a scene. It is no wonder that the majority of people think that maintaining purity is an old fashioned idea.
It makes no sense to me (Yes it does, but you know what I mean.) that manufacturers have capitalized on one of humanity’s greatest crime, war. We are created in God’s image. Yet, we will destroy other people, other nations, and whoever will prevent us from getting what we want. Men and boys will spend hours delighting in video games that involve nothing more than brutal killing, earning extra points for “head shots.” Unfortunately, men have set aside their parental responsibilities to spend hours engaged in video games. Put a uniform, kevlar, and a helmet on a character, brutally kill the other characters, and call it entertainment. Manufacturers will shrink-wrap the games and charge sixty dollars apiece. I propose that the games cost us much more than sixty dollars.
Paul tells readers, think on whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
When was the last time that you thought about what you think about, and why?