Our thoughts

our thoughts

Recently I was watching an old science fiction television show. During the episode, the intrepid crew of our technologically advanced space ship was visiting an alien planet. During the visit with this alien civilization, one of the crew members was arrested for having “evil thoughts”. This alien species had laws not only against evil behavior and acts of violence, but also had laws against evil thoughts and thinking about violence.

It is interesting to study the teachings of Christ and find the same prohibitions – that our thoughts are just as important, and even more so, than our outward acts and deeds. Three examples from the teaching of Christ come to mind, and I am sure there are more.

I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.      Matthew 5:28

For thousands of years, the seventh of the Ten Commandments forbade the act of adultery. In God’s order, marital faithfulness and the family are of high importance. Technically, adultery is an outward act. A behavior that could be seen and evidenced. Jesus turned the tables on the interpretation of this important moral law. His standard was much, much higher. Thinking lustfully about another is a violation of this important moral law, just as was the physical act. Jesus was concerned about matters of the heart and the mind, what we think about and feel. It is in the heart and mind that the battle for righteous living begins.

It was not just the seventh commandment that Jesus expounded upon. How we interact with other people was most important to him. The Commandments say do not steal and do not murder, but Jesus takes this moral code to a much higher level.

I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says “You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire.    Matthew 5:22

What we feel and think inside our hearts and minds is of utmost important. Just because we don’t strike another or steal his possessions nor say evil words doesn’t mean we have the correct moral behavior. Rather, Christ calls us to forgive our brother, even though we may have cause to be angry. He calls us to speak words of compassion to our brother, even though we feel he doesn’t deserve such kind treatment. Christ even goes as far as condemning a man to the fire of hell for slandering another. Our thoughts and our words are important. Christians are called to a very high standard of moral behavior. It is not just our acts and behavior that matter, but our thoughts and spoken words are extremely important.

It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person but what comes out of the mouth …. What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.    Matthew 15:11,18

The religious leaders during Jesus’s walk on earth were more concerned about tradition and ceremonial cleanliness. Jesus corrected their wrong thinking about righteous behavior, and this teaching holds true for the modern Church. In many places we expect a certain correct “outward” behavior in our churches, and yet neglect the more important matters such as compassion, charity, and forgiveness.

Finally brothers and sisters, 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.      Philippians 4:8

What do you think? How can you transform your thinking and be more deliberate about adopting Christ’s thoughts rather than focusing on outward appearances and behavior?

Shame

shame

Last week I introduced the concept of intimacy anorexia. To follow up on that subject, this week I will discuss shame.  Many intimacy anorexics and those recovering from addiction unnecessarily suffer with immense shame. I have known many men who have come to realize their wrongful ways and are  overwhelmed with the burden of shame […]

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Intimacy anorexia

intimacy

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.    Genesis 1:27 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of […]

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Itching ears

itching ears

“Itching ears” – whenever I read that expression in Scriptures it piques my curiosity. It is an interesting metaphor. When our physical ears itch, we have an immediate, and almost instinctive desire to reach up and scratch that itch. Itching ears quickly draw our attention, yet rarely is an itching ear a serious health crisis. This […]

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White as snow

forgiveness

It is a cold, crisp morning here in Colorado. The temperature has dropped over night, and a very pretty, velvety layer of powdered snow lies across the land. The sun shines, which illuminates the whole mountainside making everything twinkle with beauty. In this setting, I reflected on the concept of forgiveness and being forgiving, a […]

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Taking offense

offended

While driving down the highway in the right lane with several cars around me, all traveling the posted speed limit, a pick-up truck is seen to my right trying to merge from an on-ramp. There is nothing that I can do safely to help him. Eventually he speeds up and (unsafely) cuts in front of […]

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Mediocrity

mediocrity

When I was working through the Twelve Step program, one of the lessons I accomplished required me to list and analyze my character flaws. One that I identified (amongst many others) was what I termed as “mediocrity”. I felt that I did not always strive for the best or give a task my 100% best effort. […]

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Convictions

conviction

Other than its for its legal definition, the word “conviction” is seldom used in daily conversation.  I am referring to this definition of conviction: “a firmly held opinion or belief”.  We all have convictions of some sort.  Some are sound, some frivolous.  I am convinced the Mets will win the World Series or It is […]

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Breaking my food addiction

addiction

Last week I started a new regime of eating, called the Whole30 Program. Now I am not big on New Year’s resolutions or goal setting each year, but after way too much indulgence with regard to eating and drinking through the holidays, I was ready to commit to something different with respect to my relationship […]

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Objectification

objectification

Recently a few friends and I discussed the concept of objectification. Objectification is treating a person … as an object or thing. Objectification dehumanizes a person, for whatever reason. If a man struggles with sexual addiction, he will tend to objectify women. For example, pornographic images depict the woman as two-dimensional, as a beautiful face […]

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