“I find myself saying it all the time. When people hear it they laugh, but actually I’m being quite serious when I say it. Here it is: no one is more influential in your life than you are, because no one talks to you more than you do.” So writes Paul Tripp. What Tripp is saying is that we are constantly thinking and that the content of our thoughts is heavily directed to ourselves. Tripp unpacks more of what this looks like:
“You are talking to yourself all the time, interpreting, organizing, and analyzing what’s going on inside you and around you. You may be talking to yourself about why you feel so tired. Or maybe you woke up this morning with a sense of dread and you aren’t sure why. Maybe your mind has traveled back to your distant past and, for reasons you don’t understand, you’re recalling events from your early childhood.”
Whatever the case, we are masters at talking to ourselves and we must ensure that our own personal conversation is edifying and beneficial. The worst thing would be for us to waste the precious time we spend each day conversing with ourselves. The apostle Paul is helpful in this regard. He writes:
“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. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9 ESV)
Essentially, Paul is saying that we must dwell on what is pure and holy and pleasing to God. And then as we go about our everyday lives, to “practice these things.” But it all starts with thinking the right thoughts. As you converse with yourself in an edifying and pure manner, your conversation is soon directed in a vertical direction. In other words, you think about God and invite Him to become a part of the conversation.
The struggle, of course, is that there are all kinds of distractions that war against having a healthy thought life. Much of what we encounter through media is not pure, true, commendable, etc., etc. It is not what is pleasing in God’s eyes and it has the potential to negatively affect our thought life. A few questions to consider:
– What are you feeding your mind?
– What are you exposing your eyes to?
– What are you listening to?
– What kinds of conversations are you participating in?
The Bible tells us to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). As you evaluate your thought life, what are you noticing? Does the content of your thoughts align with Philippians 4:8? Are your thoughts regularly leading you to the beauty and glory of Christ? I think we are all going to see areas we are lacking in this regard. There is always room for improvement.
One very simply yet helpful tip is to go to the Word of God. That which is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise is most certainly God’s Word. As we allow the word of Christ to dwell richly in our hearts (Colossians 3:16), it begins to realign our thoughts. The problems we face on a day to day basis don’t seem so large as we encounter God’s truth.
Bottom line: your thought life matters! Don’t buy into the lie that what starts in the mind won’t eventually affect your heart and spill over into your life. Rather, “set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).