For as he thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV).
Without the ability to think, none of us could function. Our bodies work because our brains tell them what to do although those who do not have control over their bodies can be productive if the thought processing part of the brain is still there. ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, for instance, is a neurodegenerative disease affecting nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. When motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to control muscle movement is lost. Patients in latter stages may become completely paralyzed. Eventually the disease leads to death.
Shortly after his 21st birthday, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS and given two years to live. Although he cannot speak and is bound to a wheelchair, he has been living with ALS for fifty years. Touted as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists in history, he says his life is very satisfying. Stephen Hawking’s brain is diseased, but he still has the ability to think.
Much has been debated about the condition of being brain dead (not to be confused with living in a vegetative state), but in many places, brain death is a legal indicator of death. A person who is brain dead has no hope of recovery or survival. All brain activity may have ceased, but for a time (as long as a patient has oxygen such as is the case with a breathing machine), the heart and other organs are still viable. This is when most organ transplants take place.
People can function without the use of their body, but not without their brain – or their thought processes. We live our lives through our thoughts. The brain and the mind are not the same thing, however. The brain houses our mind just as the body houses our soul and spirit.
Whatever your circumstance, you control your reaction to it by what you think. What you think is who you are. What you feed into your brain’s data bank will often come out in your actions.
As I was writing this, the lead article in the New York Times was: The Evil Brain: What Lurks Inside a Killer’s Mind: “As tragedies like Boston and Newtown mount, scientists and criminologists are trying harder than ever to understand the minds behind the crimes.”
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man (Mark 7:21-23).
… they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their mind on earthly things (Philippians 3:19).
Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23).
Mind and Heart in Sync With God
It is rare to find someone who does not know about Christ – with his mind. It is only those who invite Him into their hearts that become children of God.
Man’s heart has been described as the seat of his emotions. We become children of God by trusting in Jesus with all of our heart. Jesus instructs us to love God with all of our hearts and minds (and souls and strength). Doing that, He will guide our steps.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true…noble…just…pure… lovely…of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things (Philippians 4:8).
Paul addressed this to his brothers – believers in Christ. Instead of “setting our minds on earthly things,” we should “think on these things” (in most versions). Other translations render this as “dwell on these things”(NASB), “focus your thoughts on these things” (Common English Bible), “fill your minds with” (Expanded Bible), “think on, weigh, take account of these things” (fix your minds on them) (Amplified), “let this be the argument of your thoughts” (Knox).
Similarly, other versions translate “whatever things are…” as:
True – all translations
Noble – honorable, respectable, lofty, worthy of reverence
Just – right, virtuous, moral
Pure – genuine, undefiled
Lovely – and lovable, whatever can be loved, pleasing
Good report – is well thought of, commendable, admirable, good repute
Virtue – excellence of character, excellent
Praiseworthy – worth giving thanks for, worthy of praise
Oswald Chambers said, “All Christians have the spirit of Christ, but not all Christians have the mind of Christ,” Chambers calls Matthew 6:19-21 “the depository of thought,” asking, “Where do we make our depository of thinking? What do we brood on most, the blessings of God, or God Himself?” See Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 2:5-8.
If we do not practice intentional thinking, our minds will wander and be open to Satan’s urging to ponder thoughts that are not pleasing to God. When we “think on these things,” we can keep godly thoughts close and shut Satan’s thoughts out. You draw near to God through your thoughts. He promises to draw near to you when you do.
You live by the choices you make. You choose with your thoughts.
The following, attributed to many people including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Lao Tzu, says it well, “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
© Stephanie B. Blake