Years ago I read Joyce Meyer’s book Battlefield of the Mind. It changed my life- because something came through to me with such marvelous clarity- I have never forgotten it. We have power over our thoughts, not the other way around. We give our thoughts power when we entertain them.
Thoughts are how so many bad things can start. Thoughts about body image and weight, thoughts about someone else and how much they have or how good things are, and whether or not that is fair. Or maybe it’s judgmental thoughts like “I can’t believe they would do that”- or parent their kids that way- or well, fill in the blank.
Then we give voice to them- and that gives them even more power. I realized that I had been doing this in my own life- and recalled moments when I had these feelings and thoughts about friends and acquaintances. I heard a sermon shortly afterward and the following statement is a good summary of the message.
We are not fully able to enter into joy with others in their blessings, to celebrate promotions or accomplishments, to fellowship fully in our hearts, when we harbor bitterness and envy.
It can start out so small- just a little thought “I don’t see how they deserved that promotion, I work just as hard as they do” or “she probably is just naturally skinny and doesn’t have to work at it, it’s not fair.” Or how can they be a __________ (enter in a political party or group you don’t agree with).
I believe that if we fail to address and be aware of our thoughts and the power they have over our lives, we can spend our days being controlled by our thoughts– to such extent that our witness is compromised and we are unable to faithfully serve Christ.
We are so distracted by unfairness or circumstances benefiting others more than us. Or maybe it is just that we think someone doesn’t manage their money well and we feel that they should give more to the church. Or we see them playing games on FB, and assume that they are neglecting their responsibilities or shouldn’t be spending their time doing that.
But we are each accountable for our own choices- not the choices of others.
We can urge our friends to be faithful to what Scripture calls us to- but the choices are up to each of us individually- and we are accountable to God for the choices we make during our time here on earth.
And it is hard for us to know what is truly in the heart of another person. Sometimes it takes years of friendship and fellowship, to discern intentions behind actions.
Why are we so quick to assume the worst of each other?
What I hope and pray- we will love each other despite our differences and focus on the values that we share- and rejoice with each other. Celebrate together, and laugh together. Don’t let the things that divide us prevent us from fellowship.
See the passages below- let us live in peace with one another.
2 Corinthians 13:11-12
11Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-18
12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,”so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
God’s Word always says it better than I could ever say myself.
God bless you, and may you share joy with someone today.