You Are What You Think


Your brain weighs only about 1.3 kilograms, yet it is believed that its total information storage capacity is around 1000 terabytes. It would take more than 23,400 DVDs to store all the information that your brain is capable of holding!

If you could put a price on your brain, how much do you think it would be worth? Thomas Edison had thousands of patents in his lifetime. Around the time of his death, an economic analyst for the New York Times estimated that the brain of this notable genius was worth $25 billion, derived largely by examining the business interests resulting from Edison’s inventions.

If you are anything like me, you rarely think about your thinking. For most of us, thinking just happens. Rarely do we focus our thinking as did Thomas Edison. But we should challenge ourselves to think more about what we think about.

A gift from God

God gave us our brains and our minds, with attributes unique only to our species. Our ability to reason in abstract ways is perhaps the fundamental reason that sets us apart from God’s animal creation. And that is a significant difference because some day we will answer to God for what we choose to dwell on.

“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

So even if we can fool others with our so-called righteous actions, if we entertain sin only in our minds and enjoy the pleasures of those forbidden escapades with our imaginations alone, God still sees them. He knows where our hearts lie. And, as the wise man Solomon tells us, it’s what we think in our hearts that counts—that reveals the real person (see Proverbs 23:7).

Sinful thoughts

Are we really that responsible for what we think? Well, yes and no. Certainly, thoughts tend to run through our minds as if they were on a conveyor belt. Sometimes we can’t help what we start thinking, especially with the blizzard of information coming in through our senses that our brains have to sort. But even then, we can choose what to keep in our minds for processing and what to discard.

Jesus taught that we can commit murder and adultery in our minds (see Matthew 5:22, 28). He said, “The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’ ” (Matthew 15:18–20). Thus, according to Jesus, sin always begins in the mind. That’s why we can’t be indifferent about what we think.

This doesn’t mean that when a tempting thought hits you, it’s necessarily a sin. There are times when we are unable to control the stimuli around us or the evil suggestions the devil may plant in our minds. If we quickly decide to reject the evil thoughts, then we haven’t sinned. But when we deliberately choose to dwell on the evil thought and to embrace it, it becomes a sin.

As they say in flying, “Your attitude determines your altitude.” When you adjust an airplane’s attitude—the angle at which the wings hit the air—the plane will either ascend or descend. In the same way, our attitudes toward sin will affect the “altitude” of our lives.

If our minds are constantly dwelling on trash, that’s where our lives will go. If our attitudes are focused upward, on spiritual themes, we will glide heavenward.

Positive thinking

The apostle Paul outlines the ideal for positive, pure and holy thinking: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

Romans 8:6 promises, “The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” God wants us to be as positive in our thinking as possible, and He enables us to think positive thoughts despite our mental and emotional struggles. That’s what real faith is—thinking that God is with us in spite of what we are experiencing.

We often talk and think based on our feelings, but our feelings don’t have to dictate what we think. It’s better to think and behave based on principles rather than on feelings.

Steps to better thinking

So how can we lowly, selfish humans think the way God wants us to think? By letting God control our minds. How does that happen? We simply ask and believe.

We would all think differently if we would remember the first great commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). How do we love the Lord with our minds? I can tell you it isn’t by imagining a bouquet of flowers in God’s honour. Rather, it is telling Him that we want to think like Him, that we desire to have the mind of Christ.

God invites us to think with His mind. We see a demonstration of God’s thoughts in His two great “books”—the Bible and nature. The Bible can infuse our thinking with holy and spiritual thoughts. A new positive pattern of thinking is one of the best signs that God is transforming our hearts.

Fall in love again

It will certainly take effort to experience any change in our thinking, but God will help us if we ask Him. The renewal of our minds is a process that requires time. But we are commanded to eventually “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

The heart is a magnet drawn towards what it loves. When we love the Lord with all our minds, we will find ourselves thinking about Him and what He desires rather than what the world desires. Only then can we bring every thought into captivity to Christ.

We can’t make the miracle of conversion happen by doing good works, but it won’t come if we feed on what the world has for us to consume.

Not a single atom of your body is going to make it to heaven, not even your brain matter. What’s going to go? Your thoughts, your character, which will be downloaded into a new body. So it really is important what you think about.

The article is adapted, with permission, from Who Do You Think You Are? Pacific Press®, Nampa, Idaho.

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