By Michelle Sturdivant
If I ask you to point to your heart, where would You point? Most people will point to the left side of their chest; however, let’s examine this premise through the lens of our bible. We see written in Proverbs 23:7, that “as man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Clearly, the bible states that we are capable of thinking in our hearts, meaning thinking without speaking audibly. We see thoughts and the heart mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 9:4, “But Jesus, knowing their thoughts said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts?’” Since our heart muscle cannot make decisions and think for itself, it is best thought that the heart referenced in our bibles is not in our chest but made up of our mind, will and emotions and found in our brain.
As thinking humans, we normally do not experience anything passively. If we are honest with ourselves, in the back of our minds when we are around others, we have thoughts and make judgements on how something, or someone relates to us. Think about it. When you are at home or at work, maybe at school, church or the grocery store, do you find yourself thinking, what in the world are they wearing? They must not have looked in the mirror before they walked out the door! Do we think that these thoughts are occurring in our actual heart muscles? Is it possible that the heart Jesus was talking about in Matt. 9:4 is not in our chest? And even more, are we ignoring the great responsibility given to us by God in His word to maintain our thoughts?
Now you may be thinking, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and yes this is true. However, the bible is very specific around dealing with our thoughts and our responses to our thoughts. So how do we think correctly? First, we have to want to do so. In Philippians 4:8 we are instructed to fill our minds and think or meditate on things that are true, pure, pleasing, commendable, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy. Understanding and becoming aware of this objective is directly correlated to the level of our spiritual maturity. Meaning, how we think directly affects how we will deal with people and events throughout our lives.
On the other hand, it’s easy to think good thoughts when everything is going great, but life has a way of trying to take us from “zero to a hundred” real quick. Bishop Antwain Jackson said, “Your greatest challenge in life is handling the shock of negativity when really, all you‘re trying to do is good.” God allows these moments to test your character. He permits the fire in your life to be turned up so high, that all of the impurities hidden within your heart, come to the surface and are exposed. These times should drive us to repentance as we realign our thoughts to His word.
To help maintain a clean heart and a healthy control over our thoughts, I’d like to share six recommended action steps from Dr. Gary Smalley:
Action Step One: Turn Over All Expectations to God – Expectations are the cause of stress and can distract us from our relationship with Him. The greater the gap, the greater the stress. God promises that all our needs will be met in Christ through his riches in Glory. When we rest in this truth and we can begin to experience true peace.
Action Step Two: Take Each Thought Captive – It would be nice if we could just send all our unrighteous thoughts to a recycle bin and empty it, then open up our minds to pure and righteous concepts. The way to get rid of unrighteous thoughts is to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Jesus Christ”, 2 Corinthians 10:5. This takes meditating or thinking in a focused manner on God’s Word and applying it to our life all day long. If we do this, we will have little time or desire for unrighteous thoughts.
Action Step Three: Accept God’s Filter for Your Life – God has the best plan for our lives in mind, and God is in control. We must acknowledge that God’s Word is true, regardless of what our circumstances look like and trust Him to guide our every step. He promises us in Jerimiah 29:11, that he does have a plan to use everything that happens for our good and His glory and to give us a hope and a future.
Action Step Four: Worship God in the Midst of Trials. – Worship, Worship, Worship. Nothing in life should be able to shake our joy in the Lord. No matter what trials we are facing, we can still worship God and be thankful. A grateful heart is a healthy heart. God can always use what hurts us to teach us where we need to grow. Instead of fighting God when things sting us in life, we can use our trials as an opportunity to trust in Him like we never have before.
Action Step Five: Seek Godly Counsel – It’s easy to make mistakes when making decisions on your own. Waiting on God is an important discipline. First seek God’s counsel in His Word, before making any important decisions.
Action Step Six: Review, review, and review – Finally, take a moment and just review with God. We can reflect on our words and actions throughout the course of the day and ask God to mold us into His likeness. It is important also to review His faithful acts toward us and his promises found in His Word.
In conclusion, if you were asked to point to your heart now, where would you point? The truth is . . . each person’s thinking and core identity is determined by and reflects the conditions of their heart – mind, will and emotions – and we literally become what we think.