Anything I Can’t Stop Thinking Of
“Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol,” Jimmy Needham sings in his song “Clear the Stage.” We’ve adopted this song as the theme song for one of our teaching series in Kairos. Needham’s point? Anything that consumes your thoughts will soon consume your heart. The command to guard our thoughts is more than a nice bumper sticker teaching. As James reminds us in chapter 1 of his letter, sin begins with our thoughts. The things we think about continuously soon become our desires and our desires become our actions and our actions define the character of who we are.
Do you see the line?
Thoughts → Desires → Actions → Character → Identity (the essence of who we are)…
Most of the time, we focus on stopping the ACTION. We think, “Well, as long as I’m not doing anything wrong. . . it doesn’t hurt anyone if I just think about doing something wrong.” Well, that’s just wrong.
Think about anything long enough and it will fester into a desire. The mind has amazing powers to make things happen – even if it’s the wrong things happening.
That’s why we talk so much about controlling our thoughts. Now, first, let’s deal with “wrong thinking about thinking” mistake number 1.
You CAN control your thoughts. It takes a little practice, but it can be done. In fact, we do it every day. It’s called concentration. We focus on a video game for hours at a time – and we don’t think about anything else. We focus on playing a guitar for hours – and we don’t think about anything else. See what I mean? It can be done. The goal is to give your mind something positive to think about.
This leads us to “wrong thinking about thinking” mistake number 2.
Even thinking against something is still thinking about it! You have heard about my life long struggles against Oreos. Here’s what I’ve learned: If I spend the day thinking about how I’ve got to be strong and NOT eat an Oreo, guess what? I’m going to eat an Oreo by the end of the day. The goal isn’t to think about NOT doing wrong. The goal is to think about doing right, about being righteous.
How do we do that? The Apostle Paul had some interesting counsel. In Philippians 4, he writes:
Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you (Phil 4:8-9).
These are the things we think about. We read the gospels and we think about Jesus. We read the Psalms and we think about God’s faithfulness. We read Genesis and we think about God’s power. We read the epistles and we think about how God never gives up.
And what we think about becomes what we desire. What we desire becomes what we do. What we do becomes who we are.
Think about that.