November 24, 2009

Thinking God’s way changes my life

Yesterday a woman came to help me with the cleanup of powdery sawdust from our renovation project. She was upset over a family issue and although she worked steadily, her face reflected her anxiety. Sometimes tears flowed as she told me the things on her heart.

To someone who is not a Christian, the encouragement from my Bible reading in the past few days about “do not be anxious about anything” and taking concerns to the Lord with thanksgiving sound just like that silly song, Don’t Worry, Be Happy. Without knowing the Lord, it is impossible for her to experience His supernatural peace, so for now I just listened.

As the day went by, I felt the weight of her burdens. She thanked me for listening and I told her that I would pray for her, and suggested that she try and focus on the few good things that were happening in her situation.

When she left, I had to take my own advice. I felt heavy about her situation too. I prayed about it, asking Jesus to help her and thanking Him for giving me this burden so I could pray for her. She doesn’t seem to have many friends and her family is not supportive. However, I knew that if I give much thought to the negatives in her life, I would be rehashing them just as she was.

I’ve done this before. Worry is one thing. The cure is taking it to God with thanksgiving and He gives peace, but I know that at that point I can bring back the worry if my mind dwells on the wrong things. No doubt that is why this passage on worry and prayer ends with these words:
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
God knows that what happens in the mind winds its way into life. If I think lies or other ignoble things, they will affect my attitudes, the way I talk, and the things that I do. If my mind is in the gutter, or occupied with gossip, or grumbling about the flaws and failures of others, those thoughts will turn into words and actions.

The writer of my devotional gives some definitions for the words in this verse. He says that true things are what is found in God’s Word. I agree. Thinking biblically retains my peace of heart and God’s Word always builds my faith.

Noble thoughts refer to that which is worthy of awe and adoration—the sacred as opposed to the profane. Getting my mind above the bad things in life is good, but getting it above the mundane makes a huge difference in joy levels too. God is taking care of the things I prayed about. I do not need to oversee what He is doing by picking at it in my head.

Just things means my thoughts should be consistent with God’s absolute holiness. He does what is right. That kind of thinking is conducive to trust.

The meaning of pure thoughts is obvious. Keep my mind on that which is morally clean and undefiled. Some of the things that were shared yesterday as part of this woman’s burden included immoral behavior of others. Every time I think of what she said, I am weighed down with pain. God asks me to trust Him with what needs to be done. It isn’t that I run from the burden, but that I give it to Him, totally.

He wants me to think about lovely things too, things that are pleasing or acceptable, things that have a good report or are highly regarded and well thought of. At times, the only thought that fall into that category is thinking of God Himself. He is perfect while so much of what goes on in this world is far below that.

Lastly, He advises me to put my mind on that which has virtue, those praiseworthy things. What has a good reputation? My devotional suggests whatever the world considers good, such as kindness, courtesy, and respect for others.

During the day, the Holy Spirit kept reminding me to listen, not preach, and give this hurting lady as much kindness and respect that I could. I realize today the importance of thinking that way because it affected my actions toward her. It also affects me today. I can still feel compassion and concern for her, yet not let the weight of what she told me be so burdensome that I am not able to think right or hold up her needs to the Lord in my prayers.

No comments: