Posted by: austend | Thursday, October 18, 2007

What Do You Think About?

I am taking a fabulous class called “Pastoral Ministry” taught by Dr. Rick Holland (the Senior Associate Pastor of Grace Community Church (John MacArthur’s church)). For this class we are required to read, among others, Humility True Greatness by C.J. Mahaney. I want to share one particular idea he stated among other good things within the book. This was the idea that stuck out to me the most from this reading because it truly pricked my conscience.


“The first daily item from my list is this: Begin your day by acknowledging your dependence upon God and your need for God. Purpose by grace that your first thought of the day will be an expression of your dependence on God, your need for God, and your confidence in God. Sin—including especially the sin of pride—is active, not passive. Sin doesn’t wake up tired, because it hasn’t been sleeping. When you wake up in the morning, sin is right there, fully awake, ready to attack….This is a simple strategy for taking control of the thoughts we allow in our mind. In his excellent book Spiritual Depression, Martyn Lloyd-Jones asked, ‘Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?’….Take a moment to review and examine your pattern of thinking from yesterday. Did you spend more time speaking truth to yourself, or was most of your time spent listening to yourself? Most of us spend more time listening to lies than we do speaking truth to ourselves. And the listening process usually starts as soon as we get up….As we stumble through our morning routine, we’re not directing the thoughts of our mind—we’re simply at their mercy….We’re not in charge of our thinking. We’re just there.”

How true this is in my own life! It really struck me how much I allow my mind and feelings to direct my thinking. By listening to what my mind says of its own leads to sadness, depression, lust, anger, and general sin because what is has to say is usually worthless. Rather than simply putting my mind into neutral all the time, I must constantly be engaging it and directing its thought process. I must determine what I think about in what my free time rather than letting my mind dwell on anything it pleases. And what better to think about than Scripture or prayer or something spiritually important that I just read or the words of some powerful hymn?

What do you think about when you’re not thinking about anything? How much of your day is your mind operating in neutral gear?

Instead of allowing your thoughts to be at your mind’s mercy, try practicing the truth that Mahaney stated—speaking truth to yourself. Remind yourself of who you are in Christ and why you shouldn’t be engaging in sin. Meditate on Scripture. Pray. Sing. Direct your thoughts to Heaven and don’t be like a ship blown about aimlessly on the stormy sea. It is our duty as Christ’s redeemed ones to be spiritually minded and not to be consumed by our selfish, often sinful personal thoughts. Speak truth to yourself instead of listening to the lies that your mind naturally formulates.

Excerpt from: Mahaney, C.J. Humility True Greatness. Colorado Springs: Multanomah, 2005. Pages 69—70.


  1. The importance of our thought life is often underestimated. That’s why Paul, as well, focused on it — that “Whatsoever things…” list is vital — because “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”

    Good quote. Sounds like a great class.

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