Self control in your thinking

This Sunday’s lessons dealt with the quality of self-control, specifically self-control in our thinking process. We normally think of self-control as being something we do in our words or actions but the best place to exercise our self-control is in our thoughts before they turn into words or actions.

Ideas are important and they even have substance. Perhaps I make too big a deal of it but since an idea is a “noun”, that is a subject, something that exists, at least in theory then they have weight. We can’t say that any idea by itself is without the potential to be used for good or bad.

In our journey through life, as a Christian, we should be aiming to get back to where we were before our life was corrupted by sin. Granted, we will not arrive there until we reach Eternity’s shore but the aim and journey of trying to become more like God and make our nature more like God’s is still what we should be doing. Of course, God is pretty clear that our thoughts are not His thoughts…

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. (Isa 55:6-8)

That our thoughts are not God’s does not mean that they cannot be. That we need to forsake our thoughts I think argues for the fact that God wants us to think more like him, develop the heart that He has and let our character be more like His Holy character. The question is: Will we be more like David  who said: Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! (Psa 139:23) or more like Adam who said: “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” (Gen 3:10)?

We can’t really hide from God and our thoughts are well-known to him:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Heb 4:12-13)

Even to the point of discerning thoughts and intentions!! Those pesky motives that we sometimes forget about or that we allow to confuse even ourselves. Our thoughts do matter. Take for example what Jesus said in Matthew 5

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. (Mat 5:21-22)

It seems that His audience had heard something similar to what we have heard: If I don’t actually kill the guy, it is ok if I hate him. Jesus is not stating a higher law in these verses but rather restoring the laws Moses wrote back to the place where they should be. He is letting the people know that the traditions and teachings of the Rabbi’s missed the heart of the Law.

“And this is the case of the manslayer who flees there, that he may live: Whoever kills his neighbor unintentionally, not having hated him in time past—as when a man goes to the woods with his neighbor to cut timber, and his hand swings a stroke with the ax to cut down the tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies—he shall flee to one of these cities and live; lest the avenger of blood, while his anger is hot, pursue the manslayer and overtake him, because the way is long, and kill him, though he was not deserving of death, since he had not hated the victim in time past. (Deu 19:4-6)

Read all of Dt 19 to get the fuller picture but basically, if you killed someone by accident, you could be found not guilty and not subject to the vengeance of the avenger of blood. However, we cannot miss that this guilt or innocence rests on a key phrase “since he had not hated the victim in the time past.”  No grudges, no animosity, no doubt that he had not set a trap, no hate.  the idea of ‘in time past’ goes back three days and some versions so translate it.

We cannot allow hate to control our lives, or lusts, or covetousness or any such thing and these ideas come from the heart.

And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” (Mar 7:20-23)

I will continue discussing this in the next few blogs and expounding on the lessons presented today. As I have opportunity, I will link to them when I get them loaded. Until then, like the song we teach our children: Be careful little mind what you think!



About Steven Sarff

If I were to offer any one piece of advice to one wishing to serve God, it would be to put Hebrews 11:6 and Acts 17:11 into action and let God guide you to grow in the grace and knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ.

Posted on May 13, 2012, in Christianity, Faith and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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