(Originally published 8/14/13)
As I wrote in my last post, we all need to work on the plank in our own eye. Two of the best ways to do that are through reading the Bible and praying.
Once God is seated on the throne of our hearts, change will manifest itself in the three areas of our life where we sin: our thoughts, our words, and our actions.
Like a river flows from a lake, our words and actions will flow from our thought life. Since so many people only consider sin to be something in the physical realm, they often don’t realize how much we can sin in our minds. But there are many sins that start up in the brain: fear, doubt, worry, lust, envy, malice, discontent, anger, hatred, self-pity, idolatry, pride, and so many others. We need to hold every thought captive to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5b) and we need to dwell on good things (Phil 4:8).
Reining in our thought lives takes a lot of practice. It can be infuriatingly easy to fall back into bad thought patterns. One that really gets me is worry. When I start to get worried about something, fearful thoughts take over and it’s like I’m on a swirly waterslide, caught in a downward spiral I feel powerless to stop.
That’s when all that time in the Word starts to pay off. Verses like 1 Pet. 5:7 or Phil. 4:4 pop into my mind and I can use them like a sword to beat the sinful thoughts back. I also need prayer because if I’m caught deeply enough in sinful thoughts the only way to even get to the Bible verses is to pray, repent, and ask God for help. Controlling our thought lives is an ongoing process that takes daily dedication.
After we have our thought lives in check, we need to start loving on others by speaking love into their lives (1 Thess. 5:11, Eph. 4:15, James 1:19-20) and we need to keep a tight hold on our tongue (James 1:26, 3:5-6, 9-12). Or, in this day and age, our keyboards. Written words can be every bit as powerful as spoken ones. Sometimes we underestimate the power of our words, but the Bible says in Prov. 18:21 that the tongue has the power of life or death. Your words, to yourself or others, can have great affect, so choose the right ones.
Once our thoughts and words are honoring to God, our actions will be much easier to manage. A pastor once said, “What you do is what you believe, the rest is just talk.” You’re actions will flow from your heart, and if your heart is right with God, your actions will reflect that and be honoring to God.
One of the best ways to tell if positive change is happening in your life it to check yourself against Gal. 5:22-23. If you are starting to show more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in your life then you are most certainly on the right track.
Keep fighting the good fight, finish the race, keep the faith! (2 Tim. 4:7)