Perhaps you’ve heard the pithy ditty:
“Sow a thought, reap an action.
Sow an action, reap a habit.
Sow a habit, reap your life.
Sow your life, reap your destiny.”
These days I’m becoming increasingly convinced of the truth behind that saying. Of course, Jesus made the same observation 2,000 years ago:
“For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” (Matthew 12:34-35)
Below is a list of common things we sometimes struggle with…
Not working on my homework (procrastination)? It won’t change until my thoughts change. Eating too much food (gluttony)? It won’t change until my thoughts change. Not exercising regularly (laziness)? It won’t change until my thoughts change. Being discontentment with life? (absence of faith)? It won’t change until my thoughts change. Not keeping my eyes from wandering (lust)? It won’t change until my thoughts change. Always desiring more and more (greed)? It won’t change until my thoughts change. Exhibiting a lack of humility (pride)? It won’t change until my thoughts change. Feeling lonely (discontentment)? It won’t change until my thoughts change.
I can say from personal experience that treating symptoms of my sin nature never works long because the problem is not the symptoms. Whenever I fall short of the glory of God, I always fall short in my thoughts first.
“…each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15)
So the battlefield for personal holiness is fought in our mind. In Biblical times our mind – or the seat of our emotions and will – was sometimes referred to our as our “heart.” With that in mind, I love the truth in this verse:
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
So we are to guard our hearts. What else are we to do?
“We 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 Cor 10:5)
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:1-2)
Are we up to the challenge? Although the battle is bigger than us, we must struggle to hold our ground until the point of exhaustion.
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Eph 6:13)
At the point where we can stand no more, God will intervene on our behalf.
“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.” (2 Cor 1:21)
“…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Phil 2:13)
And you know what? The stakes are high because at stake is our souls.
“For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:13)