To Change How You Act, Change the Way You Think
“Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes” (Ephesians 4:23 NLT, second edition).
Change requires new thinking. In order to change, we must learn the truth and start making good choices, but we also must change the way we think.
The battle for sin starts in your mind, not in your behavior. The way you think determines the way you feel, and the way you feel determines the way you act. If you want to change the way you act, you start by changing the way you think. In addition, if you want to change the way you feel, you must start with changing the way you think.
For instance, I can say, “I need to love my kids more,” but that isn’t going to work. You can’t fight your way into a feeling. You must change the way you think about your kids, about your husband, about your wife, and that will change the way you feel, which will then change the way you act. The Bible says, “Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes” (Ephesians 4:23 NLT, second edition).
Let me sum it up this way: You are not what you think you are. Rather, what you think, you are. The battle to deal with those defects in your life that you don’t like starts in your mind. If you want to change anything in your behavior or anything in your emotions, start with your thoughts and your attitude.
The renewal of your mind is related to the word “repentance.” I know repentance is a murky word for a lot of people. They think it means something you don’t really want to do or something painful. They think of a guy standing on a street corner with a sign that says, “Repent! The world’s about to end!”
Repentance has nothing to do with your behavior. It’s about learning to think differently. “Repent” simply means to make a mental U-turn. It’s something you do in your mind, not with your behavior. Changing the way you think will then affect your emotions and your behavior.
When I repent, I turn from guilt to forgiveness. I turn from Hell to Heaven. I turn from purposelessness to purpose in life. I turn from no hope to new hope. I turn from frustration to freedom. I turn from darkness to light!
That’s the kind of change I need to be able to change the rest of my life.
Talk It Over
- What do you watch or listen to that affects the way you think? Do those things help with the renewal of your mind?
- What do you say to God when you repent?
- How can you change the way you think about your relationships so that you feel more love toward the people in your life?
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This devotional © 2017 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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