What Does the Bible Say about Our Thought Life?
- Rachel Baker Crosswalk Contributing Writer
- 2021 10 Feb
When my husband and I were first married, we would have the liberty of enjoying long dates—pre-kids of course. We both love the outdoors, and like most newlyweds we were pretty much broke, so one of our favorite dates was to pack a lunch and hang out at the beach or at a park.
We’d relax under the swaying branches of a tree or under the protection of a big beach umbrella.
On one of these dates in particular, I caught my husband staring off longingly into the horizon. He seemed entrenched in a deep and meaningful thought. Of course, since we were newlyweds I was under the assumption that somehow his thoughts had something to do with me.
For example, how much he loved me, or how thankful he was that we found each other. You know, those sort of things.
I snuggled up next to him and asked the age-old question, “What are you thinking?” To which he responded, “Nothing.” I was shocked; I didn’t know that thinking nothing was possible. I thought the whole “nothing” thing was a joke that men played on their wives.
A few years later I walked into our son’s room. He was focused and intently staring at something. I sat down alongside him and asked, “buddy, whatcha thinking about?” He looked up at me, almost incredulous, and said, “nothing.”
I had to, of course, pick my jaw off the floor as astonishment washed over me, “it’s true, they really can think nothing.”
All joking aside, our thought life is an interesting thing, isn’t it?
In the words of French philosopher Descartes, “Je pense, donc je suis” or “I think therefore I am.” And while, yes, an intrinsic part of our existence is our thought life, or our capability to think, our spiritual lives and actions within our actual lives is wrapped up in those thought patterns.
As we consider our thoughts, it is also helpful to take to heart what God’s word says about our thought-life. So, think about these 3 things:
1. God Cares about Our Thought Life
Why can I say with confidence that God is concerned about our thought life? His word is packed with reminders, recommendations, and rebukes on how and what we think. Consider these scriptural examples.
Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…”
Matthew 22:37 “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
Colossians 3:2 “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”
You see, God cares about what’s inside our head and our hearts just as much, as our actions and reactions.
Each of us is created with a unique intellect, with a mind that is capable of so much if we harness it and use it the way God designed us to.
Unfortunately however, sometimes we can get stuck in patterns of unhealthy thoughts, which lead to unhealthy feelings, which can then lead to unhealthy actions or habits. This is why our thoughts are so important. To go further:
2. Thoughts Lead to Feeling Which Often Lead to Action
Our thoughts and feelings can get all wrapped up in each other and we can find ourselves quickly spiraling. Once our thoughts and feelings are captivated by either a negative thought, or false belief our actions can soon follow.
Our thoughts can often dictate our feelings; our feelings can often direct our actions. What is thought of first, can then be translated to action. In this case, it really is the thought that counts.
Here are some things we may not feel like doing because our thoughts and feelings have become so entrenched in a specific thought pattern or spiral:
We may not feel like doing something healthy for ourselves physically, and yet in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 we are reminded that our bodies are a temple: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.”
We may not feel like praying for our leaders as we step into this new season and yet we’re called to do it: 1 Timothy 2:1-2 says: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”
We may not feel serving others and yet when we step into a life of following Christ, we’re called to serve and pour out every gift that God has given us to grow His kingdom.
We may not feel like resolving issues with brothers and sisters of the faith, we might feel very justified in our anger and bad attitudes. But a look at how Matthew 5:23-24 gives us a different directive.
If we always went by our feelings because we let our thoughts run wild, we would never have the chance to grow into the kind of people God envisions for each one of us.
3. But God Gives Us the Opportunity to Control Our Thoughts and Feelings
As the apostle Paul puts it in the book of 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”
As we mature mentally, we become increasingly more aware of our thoughts, and through that awareness we have to realize that: Not every thought we have holds up against the truth.
If you have already put your faith in the hand of Jesus, then also, be convinced that your thoughts and feelings matter.
If you’ve been feeling pulled into unhealthy thought patterns, or if your feelings are running wild void of the foundation of truth, then take a moment to pause. Here are a few ideas to consider in relationship to those thoughts and feelings. Maybe today we all just start with one, and perhaps this is a list that we can all grow into:
Weigh Your Thoughts against the Truth: Evaluate what is true, begin with the Word of God. If your thoughts point in a different direction ask yourself, “Is this thought true? Is this what God says about (me, this situation)?”
Have the Courage of the Mind to Overcome Fear: Sometimes we can become completely immobilized by false-thinking, fear and feelings. If this is you today, know that you are not alone. Engage with those close to you, your faith community, and trusted friends. Share what you’re experiencing and ask for prayer.
Disrupt Unhealthy Thought Patterns: An incredible way to disrupt unhealthy thought patterns is to write out a problem-solution chart. Write down the negative thought that you’re having and then write the truth. An example could be: Lie: “I feel like I’m not enough for…” Truth: “I am more than enough through Christ-Jesus, who gave it all for me.”
Get Help When Your Thoughts Become Toxic: Sometimes the reality is that we’re up against a giant. That giant could be a medical diagnosis, a chemical imbalance or a trauma.
In these situations often the best course of action is to get into counseling or receive medical assistance. If you’re not sure where to start, connect with your local church and ask if they have a counseling service and if they are able to refer out. Do not walk this path alone, dear one!
As you go about your day today take some time to evaluate your thoughts, whether they are positive or negative. Pay attention to the thoughts swirling in your mind and weigh them against the truth.
If possible make this a daily habit. It may also be beneficial to journal or jot down those thoughts.
Perhaps focus on one major thought or theme each day and journal on what scripture says about that particular thought or theme. Slowly but surely, your thoughts will change, and therefore so will your actions!
As you are processing your thoughts and feelings, remember, God cares about our hearts and heads just as much as he cares about our actions.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Deagreez
Rachel Baker is the author of Deconstructed, a bible study guide for anyone who feels overwhelmed or ill-equipped to study the word of God. She is a pastor’s wife and director of women’s ministries, who believes in leading through vulnerability and authenticity. She is a cheerleader, encourager, and sometimes drill-sergeant. She serves the local church alongside her husband, Kile, in Northern Nevada. They have two amazing kiddos and three dogs. Rachel is fueled by coffee, tacos and copious amounts of cheese. For more on her and her resources to build your marriage, see her website: www.rachelcheriebaker.com or connect with her on Instagram at @hellorachelbaker.