|Volume 19 Number 3 March 2017||
The Thoughts of Our Hearts
The Psalmist addressed one of the most secret parts of man and revealed a characteristic that divides the wicked from the righteous. He said, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts” (Psalm 10:4). It’s hard to argue with a divinely revealed judgment that pride is the root of this trait, but it also means that if there are times that God is not in our thoughts, then we have room to improve. In fact, God and Scripture judge our thoughts.
Paul noted through a rhetorical question that we cannot know what anyone is thinking unless he tells us. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?” (1 Corinthians 2:11a). It’s easy to think about God when we’re in trouble or need something special to happen in our lives, but do we think about God when we’re praised for doing well? Herod didn’t when he was complimented by the people for a speech, and God knew it. “And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost” (Acts 12:23). Does our pride prevent us from seeing God in others who are made in His image? He told us He is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). Or, do we think about God as we make plans? James admonished, “For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (James 4:15).
Our thoughts are not known only to ourselves. God judges them, and He desires that they not lead us into the wrong paths. The writer of Hebrews penned, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Remember, Jesus asked scribes what to them was no doubt a disconcerting question, “And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, ‘Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?’” (Matthew 9:4). There were several other times that Jesus asked about the thoughts of men because He could see their hearts (Luke 24:38; 6:8; 5:22).
However, God isn’t looking to punish us just because we may be tempted through our thoughts, but He desires we understand that our thoughts will defile us if they aren’t controlled. Jesus said, “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Matthew 7:20-23). The thoughts of the heart through the conscience will accuse or excuse (Romans 2:15).
Thankfully like all areas of our lives, we have spiritual help in this area too. Paul affirmed that we are not warring after the flesh, but our warfare is with Satan. The apostle summed up our circumstances when he wrote, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). The knowledge we have about our thoughts can help us understand what God desires from us. Let’s humble ourselves so that God is in all of our thoughts, and let’s use the help He offers to shun evil thoughts and be pure in heart.
The supervisor directed his crew to paint a large wall with white, semi-gloss paint. The directions seemed simple enough, and for a little while everyone did exactly as they had been instructed. Soon, however, one man stepped back and thought to himself, “It’s too glossy.” So, he switched to a flat white. Someone saw what he was doing and did not care for it at all; in fact, he decided the semi-gloss was too ordinary, so he started using high-gloss. Not to be outdone, another began adding tints of blue to his paint. Then another painter added tints of red. Finally, the painter in the middle used high-gloss, yellow paint.
After the wall was completely painted, the men were standing back admiring their own work and despising the others’ works. The supervisor returned, saw the monstrously painted wall, and fired all those who did not use white, semi-gloss paint. The men who kept using white paint but had abandoned the semi-gloss protested that they had kept the instructions almost to the letter. The men who added just a little tint to their paint argued that plain white was too boring, and that they simply desired to add a little luster to their work to make it more exciting. Besides, the supervisor did not say not to add tint. Finally, the man in the middle argued that no one was going to tell him exactly how to paint or with what color he must paint. “It felt right to me, so that’s what I did. Take it or leave it!” The only one who pleased the supervisor was the one who did exactly as he was instructed without compromising, adding or changing his instructions.
Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Jesus was righteous before the Father, and He told us in Scripture how He did it. Jesus said, “I always do those things that please Him” (John 8:29). Almost obeying God means totally disobeying God as Jesus indicated with this question, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things that I say?” (Luke 6:46). Everything we do in worship and everything that is taught in relation to salvation and godly living must be in harmony with God’s Word. Each individual of an accountable level of maturity is responsible for doing Bible things in Bible ways. Paul taught, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
If for any reason we have gone our own direction in any facet of life without God’s approval, He will not be pleased. I urge you, Dear Reader, to consider what you practice and to compare it to the Bible in order to determine if you are on a course to Heaven.