Have you ever considered what you spend most of your time thinking about? Are most of your thoughts negative or positive? We are to: “Set your [our] minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col 3:2). If we recorded every thought that enters our brains every day, what percentage would be pleasing to God? Can we truthfully say that we have “rid ourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips” (3:8)? Do we “lie to each other” (3:9)? All of these actions start as thoughts, controlled, or uncontrolled. Either way, we are still responsible for our thoughts and our actions. We are supposed to “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (3:12). All of those virtues are cultivated thoughts that flow out in actions.
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Gal 6:7-8). Let us consider for a moment how we sow to please the flesh. Paul has just told us that: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (5:19-21). Solomon avows that we are what we think. “For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (Prov 23:7 NASB). So, if our thoughts are predominately negative, focusing on things we hate or situations that cause discord, dissensions, factions, not to mention the rest of his list, then those thoughts turn into actions and freely flow out of us. Remember Jesus’ words on this matter.
Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable.“Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them.For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder,adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.All these evils come from inside and defile a person. (Mark 7:14-23)
No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Luke 6:43-45)
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Prov 4:23). “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come…” (Mark 7:21). We must “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2). “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right” (Jas 2:8). “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).
We are responsible for our thoughts. We choose what thoughts to entertain and nourish, and which ones to let go. What we sow is what we reap. The thoughts we cultivate will eventually flow out in actions. If we pay close attention to our thoughts, replacing negative with positive, then Christ will be reflected in our lives. We must sow love, not hate, discord, malice, arrogance, and the like. It all starts with getting our thought life under control. If we are followers of Jesus Christ, then: “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal 5:25). Our thoughts will turn into actions fueled by “the fruit of the Spirit…love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (5:22-23).
The choice is ours. We are responsible for our thoughts. Therefore, we choose if we are going to sow to please the flesh or to please the Spirit. “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (6:8). It is natural to get drawn into negativity and to replay negative situations or conversations in our minds, but we must consider the consequences – destruction or eternal life with Christ.
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. (Matt 25:31-46)
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:12-17)
Taking control of our thoughts is not easy, but it is our responsibility. May we never forget, we reap what we sow, and actions start in our mind. Our attitudes and actions have a boomerang effect. So, “do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). If we lie, we should expect others to lie to us. If we gossip, we should expect that others will gossip about us. If we sow discord, we will reap discord. Is that what we really want? I think not, and we have all we need within to free ourselves from the negative thoughts, for we honestly can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us (Phil 4:13) “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). As faithful followers of Jesus Christ, let us sow to please the Spirit.
Let us close in prayer and ask to be filled with the fullness of God, so we may be victorious in sowing to please the Spirit.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Eph 3:14-21)
To God be the glory!! Amen.
** Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version from Bible Gateway or Logos Software. Used by permission of Biblica, The International Bible Society.