“What do you think…” Matthew 22:42a
What are thinking about right now? What should I make for supper? What is that noise in the engine of my car? What are my kids up to now? Every moment, a vast number of thoughts are running through your mind, many you are not even conscience of. Did you know that your thoughts make up who you are? Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (New King James Version) Your attitude, beliefs, words, and actions are all the culmination of your thoughts. Perhaps it is time to think about what we are thinking about. I think there are at least three important thoughts we need to consider.
We should think high thoughts of God – When Jesus asked the question we see in our key verse, He was speaking to the Pharisees. He asked them specifically “What do you think about the Christ?” The fact that He was addressing the religious leaders of His day makes it all the more important. These learned men spent their days pouring over the Holy Scriptures, the very words that not only described Christ, but were inspired by His very Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21) Yet they still missed the essence of who Jesus was – they could not see that He was God. Because they did not have the right thoughts about God. Their image of God was cast in their own minds from their own image. They had a very human view of God. I wonder if Jesus were to ask the same of you and me, how we might answer. Truly, it all depends on how we think. We are to have a high view of God. We are to think of God as He has described Himself in His Word. Leviticus 19:2 is God’s most important self-declaration: “Be holy, because I, the Lord Your God, am holy.” When we think of God, we must first and foremost think of His holiness. Jeremiah 9:24 gives another high view of His attributes: “I am the Lord, who exercises … righteousness on earth.” (Jeremiah 9:24) The Lord is righteous in all His ways. He has also testified to His might and power: “I am God Almighty” (Genesis 17:1). Jesus identified Himself as one with God when He said: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.” (John 14:6) It is only as we think rightly of God that we can see Him as He is – Holy, Righteous, and Mighty; the Way and the Truth and the Life.
We should think loving thoughts of others – In addressing the question of (again) one of the Pharisees, Jesus reiterated the Greatest Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” He then added a new wrinkle: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37, 39) In addition to thinking high thoughts of God, we are to think loving thoughts of others.
Paul expounded on Jesus’ words in Romans 13:9 when he wrote, “Whatever other commandments there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” He is simply stating that when we regard one another in love, as Christ has commanded (John 15:12), we will never think of lying, cheating, envying, stealing from or harming others in any way. He says we are to “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves,” (Romans 12:10) and adds that “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” How would your life and mine be changed if we thought of others with honor and brotherly love? How would their lives be different if we sought the good of others before our own? Paul said that we have a “debt to love one another.” (Romans 13:8) It is a responsibility that we bear as Christians to express love to others – it is the commandment of our Lord and Savior, who showed His love for us on the Cross.
Lastly, I believe God would have us think true thoughts of ourselves. One of the hardest things for us to do is to think of ourselves as God does. Perhaps that is because the world and Satan continually works to focus our thoughts on what is wrong with us. The message of the world is that we are terribly flawed if we are not the right height, weight (especially weight), or body shape. If we don’t have the right hair style or perfect white teeth, if we don’t drive the right car, have a successful spouse or brilliant children, we are of no value. If that weren’t enough to destroy our sense of worth; Satan works on the flaws in us that others cannot see – flaws that we know are there. He taunts us with temptations, then ridicules us because we succumb to that same temptation. He continually reminds us of every failure, every wrong thought and every harsh word; and when we grieve these terrible things about ourselves, he drags us even further into the pit by insisting that in God’s eyes we are worthless.
But God wants us to know that Satan and this world are liars. He wants us to think of ourselves as His Word declares: We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), “accepted by Christ” (Romans 15:7), “the righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Corinthians5:21), “chosen , holy and blameless before God” (Ephesians 1:4), “redeemed and forgiven” (Ephesians 1:7), “God’s workmanship, created to produce good works” (Ephesians 2:10), “light in the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8), “chosen of God, holy and dearly loved” (Colossians 3:12), and “made complete in Christ” (Colossians 2:10). The ultimate evidence of your worth is the same evidence of God’s love for us – “it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed…but with the precious blood of Christ. (1 Peter 1:18, 19) The truth is that Christ thought so highly of you and me that He gave the most valuable thing He had to redeem us – He gave Himself.
Philippians 4:8 is a great lesson in how to manage our thought life, we would do well to put these principles into practice. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
Holy Father, High and lifted up, please keep my mind focused on praising You, loving others and thinking rightly of myself. Transform my mind Lord to think thoughts that please You. Amen