Have you thought about what you’re thinking about?
What thoughts run through your mind throughout each day? What are the thoughts that keep you awake at night? What’s on your mind in the in-between moments: when you’re waiting at a traffic light, when there’s a lull in your work, when you’re skimming through blog posts? What occupies your mind as you listen to a friend share with you? What distracting thoughts enter your mind as you spend time in prayer?
The Bible lets us know that our thinking is vitally important. What we think about is foundational to what we believe, what we feel, what we desire, and what we do. In 2 Corinthians 11:3, Paul expresses concern for the dear friends to whom he is writing–he is afraid that their “thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”
Paul doesn’t say that he’s afraid of their desires being led astray, or their hearts being led astray, or their actions being led astray. No, his main concern is if their thoughts are led astray–their thinking is vital.
How do our thoughts go astray? They go astray when we stop thinking about what we’re thinking about–when we stop noticing or paying attention to the thoughts running through our minds. Am I aware of how often I rehearse grievances in my mind? Are you cognizant of how often your thoughts gravitate toward internal grumbling? Do we notice when subtle questions enter our minds, like the serpent’s questions to Eve–did God really say…?
In contrast, how do we maintain a “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” in our thinking? We do what Paul says earlier in his same letter to the Corinthians: “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:5). We must pay attention to what we’re thinking. We must intentionally direct our thoughts toward Christ. We must intentionally guard our minds from thoughts that push us toward autonomy from Christ.
Verse 5 of the hymn “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken” models this intentionality by speaking to my soul and reminding me to be thinking on all that I have received from the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Soul, then know thy full salvation
Rise o’er sin and fear and care
Joy to find in every station,
Something still to do or bear.
Think what Spirit dwells within thee,
Think what Father’s smiles are thine,
Think that Jesus died to win thee,
Child of heaven, canst thou repine.