Many years ago there was an anti-drug commercial that showed a man holding an egg while stating, “This is your brain.” He then picks up a skillet and says, “This is drugs.” After cracking the egg and frying it in the skillet, the man looks at the camera and asks, “Any questions?”
Despite the simplicity of the commercial, the point was made. More than 25 years later, and I still remember that “drugs fry your brain.” Funny how things stick with us.
Recently my thought life seems to be running the course of the wayward egg on its way to the skillet. It’s frightening how quickly one little thought can hit a hot spot in my mind and start sizzling with intensity. And it doesn’t just sit there and fry nicely; it becomes a big, scrambled mess. And while scrambled eggs can be nourishing to the body, nasty thoughts are not.
In fact, they tend to smell a lot like rotten eggs.
Given the number of scrambled impressions wildly careening about in my mind lately, it’s easy for me to see why the Bible places an emphasis on taking every thought captive under the obedience of Jesus Christ. My unchecked thoughts are prone to “fry my attitude” much like the famed commercial shows that drugs can fry my brain. I think it’s time for an intervention.
But just how does one go about controlling her thoughts?
How do I capture those random impressions that work their way into my psyche so completely, eluding proper management?
By adopting a “whatever” attitude.
When a wayward thought pops up and begins sizzling in the skillet of a negative perspective, turn off the heat by applying God’s Philippians 4:8 “whatever” standards.
Whatever is true. Is that thought you are processing based upon a rumor or false assumption? If so, ditch it and ponder the fact that the person whom you are thinking of in an unfavorable light is created in the image of God.
Whatever is noble. Are your thoughts honoring or discrediting the one upon whom you are focusing?
Whatever is just. Are you fair in your assessment of others, or are you judging them based on hearsay? Are you holding them accountable to your own standards of conduct or presuming that they will act in ways that are more honorable than your own?
Whatever is pure. Have your thoughts been muddied by the influence of others? Guard against contaminating thoughts that are prone to overrun the banks and pollute the surrounding area.
Whatever is lovely. Focus on beautiful things. Try seeing the bright side of a situation instead of constantly looking at the downside. It’s amazing how beholding beauty lightens the heart and breathes life into the soul.
Whatever is of good report. Are you tempted to believe a bad report? Dwelling on the “what ifs” of a possible outcome generally only lead us to worry and anxiety. Believe the promises of God, then apply them to your life accordingly.
Whatever is virtuous. There’s a reason that a man of integrity is honored by the Lord. Strive to live a life that is above reproach. Your thoughts are a great place to begin.
Whatever is praiseworthy. Building others up is much healthier than tearing them down, and it increases joy for all involved. The next time you’re tempted to allow your thoughts to drive you toward demolition of another’s character, exchange the wrecking ball for a hammer and nails, then work toward repairing the rifts.
Reining in random thoughts is a lifelong responsibility. Some days we’ll do better than others, but the goal is to continue responding to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Surrendering ourselves to truth, then positioning ourselves to reflect it.
And just in case you need a visual reminder…
These are your thoughts:
These are your thoughts without God’s intervention: