We hear phrases like this every day:
- It’s so scary, the latest news about…
- It just makes me so angry when I think about…
- It’s unfortunate, but did you hear about…
- I don’t know why but I’m so worried about…
We read them in text messages and on our news feed. Hear them in meetings. We discuss them at dinner. We saturate our minds with negativity online, at work, and at home.
Is it any wonder then that we describe our default emotional state in primarily gloomy terms? How long have you been in a season of fear, anger, discouragement, or anxiety? When was the last time you described yourself as “super joyful” or “overflowing with hope?”
Is it possible there’s a link between the things we think about and the state of our souls?
The Bible seems to think so. And it has the audacity to tell us to stop it. Stop the constant absorption of bad. We aren’t supposed to be passive sponges, soaking up every festering thought and foul feeling we encounter.
By contrast, we’re supposed to control what we let into our minds. We’re told to take every thought captive (2 Co 10:5). To set our minds on the Spirit (Ro 8:5-6). To be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Ro 12:1). To let the mind of Christ be our mind (Ph 2:5). To be sober-minded (1 Ti 3:2, 4:5, Ti 2:2, 1 Pe 1:13, 4:7, 5:8).
I don’t think this passively happens to us. I think there’s serious exertion required to have renewed minds. It’s easy to get caught in the current of our cynical culture. Floating downstream is normal. But as Christians, we are called to be different. To swim upstream. And that is not easy.
I’m not advocating for fake positivity. Sometimes life is truly, excruciatingly difficult. The Bible teaches us how to lament. And sometimes we need specialized, professional help to manage inner anguish. But for many of us, we just need a firm kick in the tailfin.
So here’s the challenge. Pay attention to yourself. Pay attention to your words, your conversations, your thoughts, and your feelings. Honestly evaluate–is this the mind of Christ? Or am I just floating down a stream of fear-mongering, gossip, or outrage?
There’s a final tip from Scripture to sort out whether or not we should continue thinking the way we are. If you find yourself fretting, moping, or ranting, read Philippians 4:8 and ask yourself:
- Is this true or noble?
- Is this right or pure?
- Is this lovely or admirable?
- Is this excellent or praiseworthy?
If the answer is YES, then, by all means, keep reading, talking, thinking, sharing, musing, and texting. But if not, take your thoughts captive. Find something good and think about that. Fight the tide, and swim upstream.
Take some time today to post some counter-cultural positivity. There are blessings to count. There’s gratitude to express. There’s beauty to behold. There’s good news to share.
“What you think about, you will care about. What you care about, you will chase.” –Ben Stuart, Rest & War.
Chase the good,