Virtual Reality | Day 19
Christian leaders love people enough to supplement telling the truth with showing them the truth and the way (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Yesterday I shared how Knowledge creates thoughts, thoughts produce actions, actions form habits, and habits form our destiny. The extent to which we expand our minds is the extent to which we invest in our future.
I am told that sharks have become a popular aquarium fish. Apparently, if a shark is caught and confined when small, it will grow only to a size proportionate to the aquarium in which it is housed. The limited environment determines their growth. Sharks can be six inches long and still be fully matured. Only when set free in the ocean do they grow to their normal length of eight feet!
It is the same with our minds. We are what we think about, not just what we do. What we give attention to we will do. We need to expand our thought life by grappling with the mind-boggling truth of God’s Word.
Paul Gruchow calls interstates “tunnels without walls”. Travelers see the same thing over and over, mile after mile, strip after strip. This is the way many people go through life—doing the same thing, thinking the same thoughts—day after day, hour after hour. Is it any wonder that their thought life never improves?
That being true, should we be surprised at the increase in violence, and the violence in our kids, or the lack of morals in our country? The outcome of a child is directly related and even conditioned by the environment that we either create for them or allow them to enter. People have to understand that their knowledge produces thoughts that lead to actions and habits. These habits will determine their destiny. It is no coincidence that in verse 8 of chapter 3, having talked about ungodly lifestyles of dishonorable vessels, Paul calls the leaders of such people,
men opposed to the truth, corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. (2nd Timothy 3:8)
It is the idea of thoughts in verses 1 and 8 that sandwich lifestyle. The implication is that scriptural thoughts are critical to our ability to live true to our confession. The question is, how do we put all this into practice?
For the words of truth in the Bible to become more than just words, we’ve got to digest them slowly over prolonged periods of time. John Ortberg, in his book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, tells this story:
Some years ago, when I was in Ethiopia, I learned about...a 99-year-old woman who lived about two hours outside Addis Ababa, the capital city. This woman had become a follower of Christ in middle age, and she was both blind and illiterate. She lived in a little hut, where she kept two Bibles on her table—one in Amharic (the official language of Ethiopia), one in English. Whenever someone came to visit her, she would ask the person to read. Over time, her favorite passages became so familiar that she could recite them from memory, and if her visitors couldn't read, she would recite as a kind of gift to them. People would come from far away just to visit her. Why would they make the journey for an elderly, illiterate, blind widow? Because somehow in her presence, through her voice, the words The Lord is my shepherd ceased to be just words. Those thoughts had washed over her mind so deeply, so often, that there was simply no way that anxiety-producing thoughts could survive. In purity of heart, she willed one thing. People flocked to her because it was impossible to hear her say those words without being filled with the hope that perhaps one day they would be as real to them as they were to her.
As we digest the Word of God our knowledge of it will develop from thoughts, to actions, and into habits. Four habits must become more consistent in our life as we digest the scriptures.
HABIT #1: We consistently discipline our thoughts to be pure—because actions begin with thoughts:
For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person. Mark 7:21-23
Pascal said that if everyone knew the innermost thoughts of everyone else, there wouldn't be five friends left on Earth. How true. None of us can claim that our thoughts are consistently pure. As we digest the Word of truth, a purity of thought will become a more consistent experience.
HABIT #2: We consistently think first because that will help us speak and act wisely:
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. Proverbs 15:28
If we are in the scriptures our actions will reveal it. If not, they will reveal that too. In a book entitled The 176 Stupidest Things Ever Done, Ross Petras tells of a 22-year-old Chinese man who was convinced that he had mastered the powers of his mind. Through his superior control of his thoughts, he believed he could cause things to happen—or not to happen. The key, of course, was putting his theory to a test. He stood on a railroad track near Shanghai and applied his thoughts to a speeding train coming right at him. If his theory was correct, he could force the train to stop. His theory was incorrect. John Locke said, “The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.” The point being that our wise actions will reveal whether the Christian leader is in the Word.
HABIT #3: We consistently allow the Holy Spirit to change our thought patterns.
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. Romans 12:2
How? We have to allow ourselves to be known by others. Knowing is contact as well as content.
The purpose in a man's heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out. Proverbs 20:5
HABIT #4: We consistently think about good things so our words and actions will be positive
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. Philippians 4:8
Food for Thought:
Which of these four habits is the crucial one for you right now? Why? What incidents have led you to this point?
In the space below, write a prayer to the Lord, asking Him to help you “think” Biblically in order to live “Biblically”.