December 20 – Choose the Truth

Being transformed by the renewing of our minds requires a proper orientation towards God. Circumstances may not always allow us to be happy, but we can always rejoice in the Lord. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and this inner joy can be experienced in every circumstance, because “the Lord is near” (Phil. 4:5). Paul admonishes us to get rid of our anxious thoughts by turning to God. He uses four words to describe our communion with God. Prayer is a general term describing a believer’s approach to God. Petition is a request for a specific need. Thanksgiving is an attitude of the heart that should always accompany prayer. Requests are specific things we ask for. With such an orientation, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (vs. 7).

When you find yourself thinking negative or immoral thoughts, just confess it to God. Don’t try to rebuke every negative thought. Doing so would be like the person in the middle of an ocean trying to keep twelve corks submerged while treading water. He should ignore the corks and swim to shore. We are not called to dispel the darkness. We are called to turn on the light. You win the battle for your mind by choosing the truth. Trying not to think negative thoughts is futile, because it just reinforces the negative thought.

Being created in the image of God, we have the capacity to choose. That means we can choose to believe or not believe, and we can choose what we want to think about. It is not enough to turn to God. We have to assume responsibility for our own thoughts. God will enable the process, but He will not do our thinking for us. Paul admonishes us to think about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” (vs. 8). These six objects for our thoughts are excellent and praiseworthy. That does not mean that we deny reality or live in a fantasy world where everything turns out right. Being out of touch with reality is the first sign of mental illness. A mentally healthy person is in touch with reality and God is the ultimate reality, but there is also the reality of this fallen world.

We need to spend time with God away from the distractions of this world. There we find the peace that passes all understanding. But when we return to our daily responsibilities, we cannot just sit around and try to have positive thoughts. We have to put our thoughts into practice. Everything we do is a product of our thoughts. In other words, we don’t do anything without first thinking it. When we face the harsh realities of this world, we need to think, “Is this true or is it not true and how can I live the truth and speak the truth in love?” “What is the noble thing to do, i.e. how can I respond in a dignified manner that is worthy of respect?” “What is the right thing to do?” “What is the morally pure thing that I could do?” “What could I do that would promote peace and good will?” “What could I do that would be positive and constructive.”

Dr. Neil

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