On Sunday I preached about thinking — specifically what a person thinks about him or her self. Two thinking pitfalls that I covered in my sermon were: 1. Self-elevated thinking and 2. Thinking that slights oneself.
Paul warns against self-elevated thinking in Romans 12:3, saying “I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think...” This elevated thinking relates to pride, arrogance and a overly high opinion of one’s self.
On the other hand I think that Moses showcases self-slighting thinking in his conversation with The Great I AM at the burning bush in Exodus 3:1-4:17. The Lord expresses to Moses His selection and high view of him, while Moses expresses his own thinking about himself. I’m paraphrasing, but Moses says ‘I don’t think I’m worthy for this task. I imagine that the elders of Israel will resist both me and this message.’ Finally Moses says ‘I don’t consider myself a very good public speaker, so I’m probably not the best man for the job.’ Moses had low thoughts of himself, while God was showering praise upon him saying ‘I’ve selected you for this task and you are just the man to lead Israel to the victory that I will work through your hands!’
The solution to thinking either too high or too low of ourselves is found in a passage that we’ve already seen. Paul writes
The solution is to think “soberly” or rightly in a sound, spiritual mind (also see 2 Timothy 1:7 which is an excellent cross reference). A fleshly or natural mind cannot think righteous thoughts, that’s why Paul calls believers to “be transformed by the renewing” of their mind. Simply put, we can either think in a natural/fleshly way, or we can think spiritually. Based upon Romans 8:5-8 I believe there is a good and evil side to each of the types of thinking listed below. Fleshly thinking displeases God and leads to death while spiritual thinking leads to life and peace with God!
I do feel that it is important to note that in Western culture we almost solely relate thinking to the mind, but The Word is clear that both the heart and the mind are capable of thought (see 1 Samuel 2:35, Proverbs 23:7 and Ezekiel 40:4).
All this thinking about thinking led me to compile a list of specfic types of thoughts. So without further ado here’s my list...
Obviously remembering consists of thoughts about the past. Christians should remember God’s mighty works and the promises He’s kept, but we should not be stuck only thinking about the past because He will do new and wonderful acts. Also, The Adversary, Satan, desires to defeat us by reminding us of past sin that has already been forgiven!
Scriptures about remembering: Psalm 103:8-14, Psalm 105:4-6 and Isaiah 43:18-19
This is another way of simply saying “to think” or “to allow a thought enter the mind.” In some ways I feel that considering is the foundation of other words on this list. We consider first and then we intend to act.
Scriptures about considering: Deuteronomy 4:39, Deuteronomy 32:6-7, 29 and Judges 18:14
Meditating, Reflecting or Pondering
This is methodical, perhaps even slow, and focused thinking. Mediation is a bit of a hot topic in the world today (yes, there’s an app for that) but again, fleshly meditation does not and cannot solve spiritual problems. Let us ponder The Truth! I also wrote a post regarding meditation earlier this year which I invite you to read.
Scriptures about meditating: Psalm 4:4, Philippians 3:18-19 and Colossians 3:1-2
This type of thinking feeds future works. I feel that this word has a strong negative connotation in the English language, but ultimately it’s simply conceiving an idea. Note that in the Proverb below it is very clear that good can be devised!
Scriptures about devising: Isaiah 30:1, Psalm 64:1-6, Proverbs 14:22 and Micah 2:1
Devising and intending are closely related but devising is more related to the formation of an idea, while intention is thinking with a plan to act in the future. Praise God that His Word can split between a passing imperfect thought and the intention to act on an imperfect thought! Also, I feel it’s important to note that because natural man cannot discern the intent of the heart or mind, natural thinkers tend to assume that intent is selfish when they see others act.
Scriptures about intending: John 7:35 and Hebrews 4:12-13
Devising and intending relate to real, tangible plans for future actions or results. Imagining is more of a creative visual thought and can be a fabrication of pure fantasy. Natural imagination often leads to doubt or fear — no there aren’t real monster under the bed, you simply imagined them. Spiritual imagination can lead to good and beautiful creativity! One example of spiritual, creative thinking was David's idea to create a temple for The Lord that The Lord had not requested.
Scriptures about imagining: Genesis 2:19-20, Genesis 6:5, Genesis 8:21 and 2 Samuel 7:4-7
Expecting / Anticipating
Again, this type of thinking is forward or future thinking, but with more of the flavor of awaiting something. Fleshly thinking is dismissive of God’s rock solid promises, leading to surprise when what should be expected is not believed. Obviously true believers will anticipate the fulfillment of God's Word.
Scriptures about expecting and anticipating: Matthew 24:42-44 and Hebrews 10:26-27
Various types of thinking can be powerful, but believing something to the end of life seals one’s eternity. Believing is first considering something and then deciding it to be true. Those who believe The Truth will live forever while those who believe lies will die forever. Let’s believe God’s Word and enjoy abundant life!
Scriptures about believing: Psalm 81:11-12, Romans 10:6-11 and 2 Thessalonians 2:11-14
How's your thinking? What are you thinking upon today? Is anyone brave enough to share in the comments below what they’re thinking? Most importantly, what do you believe? As for me and my flock, we will think on heavenly things and believe God’s Truth!
Additional Scriptures: 1 Chronicles 28:9, Psalm 77:1-15, Isaiah 26:3, Jeremiah 17:9-10, Mark 7:20-23, Romans 1:28-32, Romans 12:16, Philippians 2:1-8, Philippians 3:18-19 and Philippians 4:6-8