Thursday, June 11, 2009

What You Think

I had something of an epiphany today relative to the notion that our happiness really dis about what we think and that we really do have the power to think correctly. It was triggered by my consideration of this quote from one of my pastor's lessons, delivered years ago but saved into one of my little books of quotes:
"The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts. So guard the type of thoughts you allow in. Let you mind dwell on whatever is honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, virtuous, worthy of praise."
For some reason I've always thought that list pertained to people, to the honorableness of their actions, the purity of their words, to good things in the world. Maybe because when I was first introduced to this verse no one told me otherwise and what else would a worldly minded person think? Or maybe they did tell me and since it didn't mean a whole lot, I forgot. The trouble with that view was that by trying to focus on the good things in people and in the world, I was almost always dragged away from that line of thinking and back to the not-so-good things.

Today I realized: it's talked about principles of God's word, about Jesus, about God's plan and essence, about who He's made me to be and the 40 things He gave me at salvation. Those are the things I'm supposed to be thinking about. Not, as Pastor McLaughlin suggested,
"whatever is a lie, whatever makes you angry or jealous or fearful or resentful or discouraged or miserable."
Which is what we generally tend to think, even when we know we shouldn't. But by focusing on the right and pure and honor and virtue in God... that He's perfect, that His plan is perfect, that Jesus is seated at His right hand, that He's made me a priest and I can go to Him whenever I want...

I think that in particular is something we take for granted. In the age of Israel, people just couldn't go to God whenever they wanted. Though sometimes God came to them, like with Gideon, usually they had to go to the priest and ask him to talk to God for them. Or if God had said anything to the priest that the person needed to know. Or they had to confess their sins to him and ask him to sacrifice an animal for them.

We don't have to do that and I know that I, for one, do not accord this nearly as much awe and appreciation as I should. We live in a time when priests aren't particularly lauded. I have never even known one, at least so far as the world is concerned. So being a priest doesn't have the significance it must have had to the early Jewish Christians. But if you just sit and consider that as a believer in Jesus Christ you have the right and freedom to go directly to God yourself, in your thoughts and confess your sins, or ask for your needs, or just talk to Him... that's really pretty mind-boggling.

And certainly a much better subject for contemplating that what some person is like or doing, or has done...