The world knows that positive thinking is good for us. Nearly every self-help book on the market will tell you that your mind plays a crucial role in shaping not only your life but also your health.
I used to believe that positive thinking belonged to the world. I would see “positive” encouragements online (with the absence of God of course) and think to myself how wrong the whole positive thinking movement is. The problem with that, however, is that positive thinking was God’s idea first. The world simply took a spiritual truth, removed God, and packaged it up for everyone who needed it.
It caught on because it works. And it works, because it’s a God-given spiritual truth.
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Paul describes the mind of the believer in his letter to the Philippians:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. – Philippians 4:4-8
We are called to think about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable – and not just think about them but dwell on them. Speaking from experience, it’s not easy to keep my mind positive all day, every day. In fact, it’s downright hard sometimes, especially during difficult circumstances. But I truly believe that God’s desire for our minds is that we learn to replace our negative thoughts with positive thoughts – that we fill our mind with His truth, His love, and His peace.
The world may have caught on that positive thinking is good for us, but they are missing a key element to finding true happiness and success – our Savior Jesus Christ.
We can tell the world to choose joy or to rejoice in hard times, but God gave us something to always be joyful about. So even when times are tough, we still have Jesus. We still have the love of God and His salvation. And we can hold on to the hope of a future with Him.
And what of peace? Is it possible to have peace during difficult times apart from Christ? The Bible tells that the peace of Christ “transcends all understanding.” In other words, when the world would find it impossible to experience peace of mind, we can have peace in Jesus.
And how do we experience this peace?
- Make the conscious choice not to worry and to replace your thoughts of worry with God’s truth.
- Take your circumstances to God in prayer.
- Trust that God will not only help you but that He will sustain you.
The art of positive thinking doesn’t come automatically when you surrender your life to Christ. In fact, the enemy may try even harder to influence your thought life once you belong to Jesus. But God’s peace will guard your mind, and you can rely on His strength to help you.
In the end, it is up to you to change your thinking. Paul never told the Philippians that God would automatically put positive thoughts in their minds. They had to make the choice to think godly thoughts, and we must make that same choice every day.
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*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.