Right Thinking

March 31, 2016

                                  Right Thinking

If we don’t think right we don’t live right.  If we don’t think right we make foolish mistakes and hurt ourselves and others.  Wrong thinking = wrong decisions = wrong actions = bad experiences.

The sad truth is that many today are making many of their decisions based only on their feelings.  We frequently hear someone say “This is the way I feel about it.” Since it is so common to hear that, it may be that some say it even though they haven’t given serious thought to their opinion.

In the Bible there are only nine verses where the words “feel” or “feeling” are found.  In some verses the word used has to do with the sense of touch.  Others refer to the way something effects our emotions.  In contrast, the word think appears in a great number of verses.  God has given us a mind with which to think.  We need to know how to use it.

Sometimes we do things without thinking.  That is negligence, but it may have been done based on feelings.  Many times our problem is that we don’t know how to think.  We need to learn how to think.  Children need to be taught how to think.

Thinking is a process.  It takes some effort to think.  We need to have some knowledge to be able to think.  Some knowledge is gained by feelings.  We can tell a child not to touch a hot stove, but if he does he will know that it is something he shouldn’t do.  We can teach a child to put his shoes on the right feet, but if he doesn’t, he will feel that something is wrong.

Let’s suppose you want to teach your child how to set the table.  There are some things she will need to know.  She needs to know where to find the plates, the silverware, the glasses, the napkins, etc.  It is a learned process.

Children need to learn how to make decisions for themselves. Let’s suppose your child is eating lunch in the school lunch room and he spills his juice.  If he decides what to do based on feelings he may:

  1. Run out of the room and hide in the bathroom
  2. Pick up his plate and move to a different table

If he makes a decision based on thinking about what would be the proper thing to do he may:

  1. Go to the bathroom and pull off some paper towels and go back to the table and wipe up the juice
  2. Go to the teacher and tell her what he did and ask for paper napkins or a cloth with which to wipe up the juice.

We as adults also make decisions based on our feelings. If someone says something that offends you, you may feel like punching him in the nose.  On the other hand, if you think about it you may realize that he said what he did because of irrational thinking, and that punching him in the nose would also be irrational thinking.

Making decisions based on feelings are causing people to find themselves:

  1. In debt
  2. In an unhappy, dysfunctional marriage
  3. Voting for political candidates that are a poor choice
  4. Saying things that they later wish they hadn’t said
  5. Doing things they shouldn’t do

If you are in the habit of making decisions based on feelings it will take some discipline to break the habit. The following are some suggestions of what you can do.

*Recognize the fact that you need God’s help. You can’t have his help without being a child of God.  First of all, that comes about when you recognize that you are a sinner.  Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Secondly, recognize that Christ died for your sins. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Then put your faith in Christ for your salvation. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” It is a matter of praying and asking God to forgive you and make you a child of his.  Then you need to seek God’s will before you make decisions.  Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

*Another thing you need to do is accept the Bible as divine revelation.  II Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:   That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” Bible knowledge will help you discern between good and evil.

*Be sober minded.  In Titus chapter two the Apostle Paul used the word sober three times.  In each case it means a mind that is disciplined.  It also means a healthy mind.   It is one that is functioning as it should.  Sometimes in the Bible the same word is used to speak of a sound mind.  The current meaning of the word sober means a mind that isn’t altered by the influence of drugs or alcohol.  The mind can also be altered by tension.  It might be because of anger.  Sometimes it is because of fear.  Decisions are also made at times under the force of lust.  In such a case the desire to have or do exceeds the power to reason.

*You need to have what we call “convictions.” They are firm beliefs regarding right and wrong.  They are taken from the Bible.  One conviction might be “I will not tell a lie.” Therefore every time you are faced with the temptation to lie, you won’t even need to think about it.  You have already made that decision.  The answer is “No.”

*Reading good books will help you build character and make wise decisions.  One that is highly recommended is: “How Now Shall We live?” by Chuck Colson.

*Christians need to recognize that they are responsible to God.  That means they pray before making serious decisions.  In Proverbs 3:6, that we already quoted, there is the promise that God will direct our path.

Your feelings are necessary and a vital part of your life.  They are a good thing, but your decisions shouldn’t be based on them.  Decisions need to be based on knowledge.  You can never have too much knowledge.  The book of Proverbs was written by Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived.  In Proverbs 8:8-10 he wrote, “All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.  They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.  Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.”

Questions or comments are welcome.  Please send them to the following address:  rusandmargaretgeorge@windstream.net

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