This is Day 6 in the series “31 Days: What You Should Know Before An Affair“
Can you imagine what it would be like if you had a scrolling LED screen on your forehead where others could read all your thoughts?
Or if you had a day like Jim Carey’s character in the movie Liar Liar, where every thought that blipped through your mind became verbalized by your mouth?
For most of us, this would be terribly embarrassing at best and completely devastating at worst, because we all have thoughts that are best kept private. Yet most of us underestimate the significance of our thought life and pay little attention to what we spend the most time thinking about.
Whether we realize it or not, our thought life is a barometer of the internal state of our soul. And it’s been said that our thoughts may be the most powerful part of ourselves, holding the power for influence and change beyond what we even realize.
Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.
Our thoughts are the origin of our destiny—or destination—which is why it is so pivotal to take some time to regularly identify them in order to be aware of the direction in which we are heading. At any given moment we’re on our way somewhere, and we will accidentally arrive where we never intended—or chosen—if we remain ignorant of the thoughts which are driving us there.
The fact that I ended up having an affair was preceded by hundreds of thoughts along the way—thoughts that occurred way before I arrived at divorce. Thoughts of discontent and comparison, self-righteousness and pride. They were thoughts I allowed to marinate and meld into a way of seeing my world, becoming a dangerous set up for the sin I eventually chose, and the thoughts I continued to feed.
All of us have inappropriate, impure, unprofitable, or tempting thoughts at one time or another.
Maybe we’re hostile and unkind to our own hearts, playing tapes of unworthiness or shame in our minds, affecting how we interact with those around us.
Perhaps we allow frustration and judgment to rule our thoughts and end up merely surviving our days—irritated and annoyed with the people we love the most.
Or maybe we focus on negativity—disappointed in the way life is unfolding, and discouraged that we don’t have the power to change our direction.
Maybe we play the comparison game.
Or maybe we feed our minds with inappropriate fantasies or repeated thoughts of emotional or sexual misconduct—romance novels, magazines, suggestive TV shows, music reminding us of our past, or even pursuing pornography.
It has been my experience, from talking with hurting and broken people, that one of the most common threads when they examined the root of failure was a thought life that fed a changed way of believing, which they used to justify their actions. And it was those actions that determined the destination of the mud in which they landed.
What I want you to know today is that your thoughts matter. Everything begins there. And your thoughts are a way bigger deal than you realize. I beg you not to underestimate their power, especially when it comes to being predisposed or vulnerable to an affair.
We have to get honest with ourselves about our thoughts, but we also have to resist inappropriate guilt. Simply having a tempting or inappropriate thought isn’t necessarily the problem. Temptation itself is not a sin and temptation does not equal failure. It’s the giving in to the temptation that is a sin.
But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire 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 (NIV)
When it comes to our thought life, the problem is our own doing. We are the ones who hook ourselves and drag ourselves away when we choose to indulge in or entertain inappropriate thoughts over and over. And if given enough time and attention, our thoughts will lead to action which may include an undesirable destination. This I know.
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 Corinthians 10:5
John Piper has a fascinating view of this passage. So often we are taught we have to somehow arm wrestle our thoughts and just stop thinking them. Have you ever tried to just stop thinking something? It can make you think of it even more!
Paul is addressing the Corinthians here, who were not living in a way that was pleasing to God. And the pronoun “we” in the passage is referring to Paul and those who were with him. Paul describes how he is coming in and destroying the pretense, arguments, and every lofty opinion the Corinthians have that is in opposition to God. Paul is purposing to identify their faulty ways of thinking, which had become so prevalent. And instead, He challenges them to align their thinking to obey Christ.
And that is what we must do.
Be honest with ourselves.
Become aware of our thoughts.
Read God’s Word.
And measure the content of our thoughts against what it says, making sure our thoughts are in alignment with the Bible.
Then where we discover misalignment, we must ask for God’s help with our thoughts.
He promises to be with us. To help us. And the more we fill our minds with His Word, seek Him, surrender to Him in humility, and ask for His help, the more our thoughts will align with Christ.
We need God’s supernatural help to change our thoughts—which eventually will change our actions, habits, and character—forever changing our final destination.
Your thoughts matter, and you don’t have to manage them alone.
How have your thoughts over time affected your actions?
What is a thought in your mind that needs to go?
Throughout this series, if you have a question or a struggle and want me to address it or write on it in this series, please send me an email (jacque at jacquewatkins dot com) or a voicemail (green button on right sidebar) and I will do my best to incorporate it into this series. It will make me so happy to have feedback from you and to write what it is you might need. I can’t wait to hear from you.