Aristotle, Plato and Descartes are on a plane. The flight attendant comes by to take their drink orders. She asks Aristotle if he’d like a beverage. Aristotle says, “I’ll have a ginger ale.”
“And how about you, Mr. Plato?”
Plato says, “Diet Coke, please.”
She says, “And Mr. Descartes, anything to drink for you?”
Descartes says, “I think not,” and disappears.
René Descartes posited “I think, therefore I am” as proof for his existence. One of the attributes that distinguishes us from the animals is that we are able to not just make connections, but truly think and figure things out. We can ponder and meditate.
It is impossible to not think. Just try not thinking of, say, elephants for a moment. The word amuse means “not think.” But even when being amused in the most mindless pastimes, we still do some thinking. It hurts to even think about not thinking.
Thinking is unavoidable, so the question arises, “What do we think about?” It’s safe to say that we think about the things that are important to us: work, family, money, sports, music, the new car, pets, etc. What consumes our passions consumes our thoughts.
As Christians, we have objective guidelines to help us divert and channel our thoughts in a right way. It doesn’t take much thought to realize that when man’s passions are untamed by righteous thoughts, passions give birth to much of the world’s evil. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19).
God’s guidelines for thinking are found in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
When I practiced a form of Hinduism, my goal was to think about nothing. That was hard to do, mostly because I contemplated the pain of sitting with my legs crossed and back stiff. The goal was inner peace, supposedly achievable by emptying your mind. The best I could accomplish was inner drowsiness.
In contrast, God calls us to use our God-given gray matter and THINK! We are to think of good things, because “the mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). Peace does not come from an empty head, but a heart filled with Spiritual truth.
One of the marks of an unbeliever is that “in all his thoughts there is no room for God” (Psalm 10:4). God is not an object of affection, so He is not an object of thought. One can tell where one’s affections—and even obsessions—lie by where his thoughts go, and what those thoughts are.
God gives us this warning: “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon” (Isaiah 55:7). Notice that our thoughts are important to God: not only does He know them (scary!), He will forgive them if we but ask.
It is not enough to say, “I believe in God.” “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19, NKJV). Demons certainly don’t hold God in high esteem, and are not pleasing to Him. There has to be more. Listen to Jesus quoting Deuteronomy, one of the first books of the Bible: “‘And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30, NKJV). It’s hard to say you love God if you never think about Him.
We all love to be thought about. A souvenir from a trip, a card with no holiday attached, a phone call, doing your spouse’s chores—these are all acts of love and thoughtfulness. The ultimate thinker is God, and this is what He thinks: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, NKJV). There is something to meditate on!
Has anyone ever said to you, “I like the way you think”? We can say the same thing to God, Who says, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways . . . As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8, 9). We can take great confidence in prayer, especially when we don’t understand or like what’s going on, knowing that the One Who thinks about us all the time knows and understands better than we do.
So, what do you think? Let the Bible be your guide. “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, NKJV).
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