How often do you think about your thought life? For most of my life, I just let my mind do its thing. Thoughts were thoughts. I couldn’t control them – right? Wrong. Not only is it possible to change your thinking, we are commanded to do so as believers. But it doesn’t happen overnight. Renewing your mind towards Christ is a daily (sometimes minute to minute) process. And it starts by learning how to guard your mind.
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Is it easier to break a long-term habit or to prevent that habit from taking root in the first place? You see, your mind often operates out of habit or routine, and dwelling on negative thoughts becomes a habit rather quickly. Wouldn’t it be easier to guard your mind and prevent the pattern of negative thinking in the first place?
So I must ask, what are you doing to be proactive? How are you guarding your mind?
Here are a few practical ways to guard your mind against unwanted thinking:
- Pay attention to what you watch and what you listen to. Remember the song “Oh Be Careful Little Eyes What You See?” One of the best ways to guard your mind is to not fill it with junk. Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Are you watching things that cause you to think this way? What about music? Is what you’re listening to “excellent and praiseworthy”?
The best way to think godly thoughts is to protect your mind from things that aren’t godly.
- Guard your mind against the spirit of fear. I had a friend who struggled with nightmares – so much so that she was afraid to go to sleep at night. As a married woman, when her husband was out of town, she would stay at her parents’ house because she was afraid to be alone in her own house. But this young woman was also a big fan of horror films – the scarier the better. She watched them regularly believing that they had no effect on her thinking.
Truth: Everything you subject your mind to will ultimately affect your thought life.
There’s one more aspect of fear I’d like to mention – one that is rather subtle. When you’re watching the news or reading the newspaper, do you ever feel afraid? Our world likes to spread bad news, and nothing sells a news story better than fear. If you’re constantly filling your mind with bad news and all of the reasons why you should be afraid, are you really guarding your mind?
Aren’t we supposed to focus on the truth of the unseen rather than the seen? It’s certainly not a bad thing to read the news but do so with a guarded mind and the right perspective.
- Guard your mind against sinful thoughts. Yes, it is true that the enemy will plant seeds of doubt, fear, and sin into our minds. We can’t prevent every negative thought. Even Jesus experienced temptation while fasting in the desert. But we can certainly be proactive in coming against the enemy’s lies. We do this by arming ourselves with the truth. A seed can only grow if it’s watered and fed. So don’t water and feed the enemy’s lies. And when you recognize a seed planted by the enemy, know that you have the authority to uproot it with the truth.
Not every seed planted by the enemy is an obvious sin. More often than not, they are subtle. We are tempted to be afraid, to worry, to doubt, or to think we’re unworthy. These are the most dangerous schemes of all because they affect our thought life the most.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
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*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.