And He said unto them, “Why are ye troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
I would like to draw your attention to something which has a great power and influence in our lives. It is the power and influence of our thoughts. This was prompted by my reading something concerning the words of our Lord Jesus when He asked the question of the two on the Emmaus road: “Why do thoughts arise in your hearts?” (Luke 24:38) Have you ever reflected on that question?
Our thoughts make a crucial difference to how we live each day. We may wake one morning feeling refreshed and cheerful and ready for the day. Then then suddenly a thought flashes into our mind and in a moment our feelings have changed our happiness vanishes, even the sunshine seems clouded and we can become anxious or bitter inside. Not that anything has changed in that one brief moment. Our health, our work, our family and friends, even the sunshine are all the same as they were moments ago, but other thoughts have intruded and robbed us of peace of heart and mind.
I am thinking here about our thoughts and not our words. Most of us are careful to set a guard upon our lips, otherwise we might lose our job or offend our brother or injure our loved-ones. But it is much more difficult to guard and manage our thoughts, because they cannot be seen. A person may be thinking bitter things about you, yet he greets you with a smile on his face. In our place of work we may be a model of obedience to our fellow workers or to our employer, but inwardly we can be filled with contempt and all the time despising them. We might smile and appear gracious to others in the fellowship, but inwardly we are thinking bad thoughts about them. Our thoughts can have a harmful impact on our health, they can destroy our happiness and most of all impact our relationship with Christ. The mastery of our thoughts is very difficult, but then many things in life are difficult, especially those things which give joy and satisfaction and blessing to others.
If you enjoy listening to a favourite piece of piano music by an accomplished musician, you recognise that years of training, and hours of practise were needed to produce that beautiful melody which is such a blessing to you and to others. That is true concerning our thought-life. The influence of our conduct is determined by the efforts to maintain the purity of our thoughts. There are at least ten references in the Gospels where we are told that Jesus knew the thoughts in people’s minds. Simeon told Mary that in the coming of Christ “the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed..” the implication of those words and of other passages in Scripture is that we shall be judged by our thoughts. The Apostle Paul mentions our thoughts a number of times in his Philippian Epistle, where he writes: “In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself..” (2:3) “Let this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus..” (2:5) “I implore Eudia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord..” (4:2) and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus…”(4:7) “Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, – meditate on these things..” (4:8)
To guard our minds is much more difficult than guarding our speech, and these exhortations in Philippians and elsewhere are certainly difficult but they would not be given if it were not possible. They are teaching us that they are possible for us all. It depends upon our dogged determination so that when the devil comes and seeks admission, he will find not find even a corner for him in our thoughts. This requires us to walk as closely as possible with Christ. It is always easy to have good thoughts when you are walking with the Altogether Lovely One whose Holy Spirit is within us to help us.
For every virtue we possess,
And every victory won,
And every thought of holiness
Are His alone.
Bill Hughes (Christ Church Deeside)