(January 31, 1990)
I once offered a meditative friend “a penny for your thoughts?” He laughed, “They aren’t worth it...” Knowing him, that probably wasn’t true, however he did get me thinking about the value of thoughts.
Our minds are capable of incredible activity. Far more complex than even the most sophisticated computers, we process a myriad of stimuli and information every second. The sights, smells, sounds, colors and temperatures around us are noticed in varying degrees of consciousness, responded to, again in varying degrees and all that information is tucked away somewhere inside our heads. Even as that happens, we might be involved in an assortment of other activities that requires some thought: anything from doing a crossword puzzle to performing brain surgery (hopefully not at the same time).
Considering the incredible potential of the brain, what a surprise to hear we only use about one-tenth of our mental capacity. (And there are some days that might be reduced even further, at least for some of us.) However, in spite of the many times our minds can’t seem to focus on any particular thing and in spite of the times we put our mind to things that are an admitted waste of thought, our thought-life has value. It determines the kind of people we are and how we behave.
TRUE NATURE: Proverbs 23:7 warns about being deceived by those who seem to be virtuous on the surface but are not: “For as (this phoney person) thinks in his heart, so is he... his heart is not with you.” In other words, the real nature of a person can sometimes be hidden, only known to God by their thought life.
BEHAVIOR: The truth is, seldom do thoughts stay hidden. Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies...” (Matthew 15:19). In another place He said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Simply put, every word spoken, even every action, begins with a thought.
Wise king Solomon wrote: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” He was well aware that whatever pollution is in there will eventually pour out. If we allow our thoughts complete freedom, never disciplining our mind to center on good, right, peace, and other virtuous topics, we need not be surprised if our BEHAVIOR takes a turn towards those negatives and we wind up saying and doing things that we ourselves don’t even want.
Actually, God desires His people preoccupy themselves with thoughts of Him. That doesn’t mean we never think about anything else, but that when we have nothing to put our brain to, we turn it to Him. He says that whenever we do, He will keep us “in perfect peace” (see Isaiah 26:3), a very desirable state of mind indeed!
The problem is this: It isn’t easy fixing our mind on anything, God included. Mine sometimes pops all over the place. All that agitation is not the peace that God promised. It takes some mental discipline to think on one thing at a time.
It also takes some knowledge about the subject. How difficult to think about God if He is an unknown entity. He knew that, so He provided a way to know Him personally through a faith-relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ (“No one comes to the Father but by me”). In fact, Jesus, who is the “exact representation of His person” came to reveal the glory of God to us. He said that when we see and know Him, we see and know God.
After that relationship begins, we deepen in knowledge of God through a continual discovery of Him through the Bible, written also “that we might know God...” and in knowing Him, our thoughts are more able to dwell on Him... soon becoming far more precious than many pennies!