It seems so innocent, really. It’s just a fleeting thought about a single wayward dalliance. Or maybe it’s just a brief longing for a slight but sweet revenge. Or lingering look at an indulgent — and way-beyond-your-means — purchase. Or the contemplation of a series of stinging retorts that weren’t said and wouldn’t be said, but are still enjoyed in your mind. It’s just a thought. It will never be acted upon. It wouldn’t — it couldn’t happen — would it? No, of course not. It’s just a thought. No one else knows. It’s insignificant. It’s acceptable and okay. Isn’t it?
What we think is what we are. “For as he thinks within himself, so he is” says the writer of Proverbs (23:7). Our thoughts are not something to be indiscriminately indulged. They must be corrected, confessed as sin (when necessary), renewed, and transformed to the image of Christ.
What we think is of great importance. And by that I don’t mean that what we think about significant issues is important. I mean, what we think about in the quiet times of the day, what we think about in our moments of leisure, what we think about as we lay our heads to rest, what we think about when brief temptations cross our paths, what we think about in every waking moment of every day is of great importance.
In a very helpful article, entitled, “To Be Right, We Must Think Right,” A. W. Tozer affirms those statements —
What we think about when we are free to think about what we will — that is what we are or will soon become.…
Our voluntary thoughts not only reveal what we are, they predict what we will become. Except for that conduct which springs from our basic natural instincts, all conscious behavior is preceded by and arises out of our thoughts. The will can become a servant of the thoughts, and to a large degree even our emotions follow our thinking.…Thinking stirs feeling and feeling triggers action. That is the way we are made and we may as well accept it.…
Thinking about God and holy things creates a moral climate favorable to the growth of faith and love and humility and reverence. We cannot by thinking regenerate our hearts, nor take our sins away nor charge the leopard’s spots. Neither can we by thinking add one cubit to our stature or make evil good or darkness light. So to teach is to misrepresent a scriptural truth and to use it to our own undoing. But we can by Spirit-inspired thinking help to make our minds pure sanctuaries in which God will be pleased to dwell.…
Anyone who wishes to check on his true spiritual condition may do so by noting what his voluntary thoughts have been over the last hours or days. What has he thought about when free to think of what he pleased? Toward what has his inner heart turned when it was free to turn where it would?…We’ll soon be the sum of our voluntary thoughts.
Of all the things you consider and guard against today, guard your mind and what occupies its thoughts.