Perhaps nothing reveals the state of our heart so much as our thoughts. A.W. Tozer said, “Our voluntary thoughts not only reveal what we are – they predict what we will become. The will can become the servant of the thoughts, and to a large degree even our emotions follow our thinking.” We cannot become a true servant of Christ as long as we allow our thoughts to wander into territory we know is not pleasing to God.
As the mind goes, so goes the heart. Tozer went on to say, “We can by Spirit-inspired thinking help to make our minds pure sanctuaries in which God will be pleased to dwell.” That must be our goal: to make our mind a place where Jesus feels very much at home.
The only chance we have of controlling our thoughts is to surrender them fully to God. If you’ve ever attempted to regulate your thoughts on your own, you know it is futile. Satan uses our minds against us. He’s been doing it since the dawn of time and is a master manipulator. The culture feeds our mind images which we don’t want yet they become embedded through repetition and our own proclivity to curiosity. When we elect to think of something not honoring to God, we are succumbing to pride. We think we know better than God what will make us happy. It is the same lie the serpent told Eve. You’d think we’d be wise to this trick by now!
Whenever my thoughts run away from God, I’m always left asking, “What was I thinking?” Seriously, why in the world would I allow my thoughts to drift away from the One who created me, comforts me, and loves me unconditionally? The character of God is purer and more lovely than anything we can imagine. How can we be so stupid as to allow our gaze to be lured away to things that pale deeply by comparison? We humans aren’t real bright despite the lies we tell ourselves.
One of the best ways to keep your mind focused on God is to get rid of any triggers that tempt you to focus elsewhere. Diet books encourage you to remove unhealthy and fattening foods from your pantry and cupboards so you won’t be tempted to cheat. The same goes for our minds. If we surround ourselves with things we know will encourage thoughts unpleasing to God, we are destined to fail.
Make a habit of asking yourself, “What was I thinking?” at regular intervals throughout the day. One sure way to begin taking control of your thoughts is to become more aware of what you are actually thinking at any given moment. Set an alarm and record what you are thinking whenever it goes off. It’s a bit of a pain, but developing a new discipline always is. As you anticipate the next alarm, you will be more conscious of what you are allowing into your mind.
Ultimately you must surrender your thoughts to God and ask Him to purify your mind. If you are serious about being a disciple of Jesus, and serious about allowing Him to control every aspect of your life, you must surrender your mind. You must consciously choose to dwell on Him and to kick out any thoughts which do not conform to His standard. Then your mind will become a place where Jesus can dwell. Then you will begin to understand the way of holiness and conceive of the life He has created you to live.