As a man thinketh in his heart so is he (Proverbs 23:7)
For the most part as we live out our day to day life the faculty of thought and reason is mostly taken for granted. We don’t think too much about the power of thought and the effect it has on our ives. We don’t realize to what extent our own happiness and wellbeing depend on right thinking.
Even the nations of the world owe their happiness or their misery to right or wrong thinking.
Just as the words to the old song tell us that love and marriage go together like horse and carriage. So do words and actions go together with thoughts. Words have a power of their own. But the power of words come from the ability of the words to awaken thoughts that lead to actions. A persons actions in turn gives us an indication of how he thinks. Someone who is in the habit of thinking justly will speak and act justley. Someone who is in the habit of thinking only of their selves will speak and act selfishly.
Brother Russel once said that thought is the great engine which is moving the whole world in its every department, The only problem is that the fall into sin has affected every member of the human family and disordered our reasoning faculties. Selfish individuals frequently take advantage of the weak mental state of humanity to delude them to hinder and obscure correct thinking and reasoning.. The human race must also labor against the wiles of Satan who deceives and misleads and in fact is the father of lies.
Heathen religions try to restrain the intellect by appealing directly to the passions, prejudices and fears of the people.
Because the power of thoughts is recognized to some extent it is appealed to on every hand. The teacher appeals to it, the politician, the banker, the Madison Ave advertising agencies and so forth, appeal to it through magazines, newspapers, books, radio and television.
Fortunately for us God too appeals to the power of the mind though his word as we can read in Isaiah 1:18 [Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;] God has provided us through his word with proper basis for reasoning on all subjects including our creator and to our fellow man. The scriptures lay down certain broad lines and invite God’s people to reason within these lines of revelation and see that God is gracious and come to a clear knowledge of him and a better understanding of his character and plan..
Through our study of the scriptures we should endeavor to learn to control our own thoughts. Thoughts can be controlled just as words and actions can be controlled. The will must decide which thoughts it will entertain and which thoughts it will reject but to do this well we should have before us an ideal of character to be copied. God has supplied this well in giving us his only begotten son who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:1 addressed all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi. I mention this because this clearly shows that he is addressing members of the early Church.. Little flock members whom I believe are all now united with their master in power and glory. I also feel that we can all profit by the advice given to the saints in Philippians 4:8 where the Apostle states; finally brethren whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are of good report, if there by any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Let’s take a look at each one of these exhortations in turn and see how they can help us to learn right thinking. The first one is whatsoever things are true.
The first question to be asked respecting any matter….
Is it true or is it false. With imperfect brains there is a chance of being misled. We should weigh and balance evidences to discern the truth from untruth. The word of our Lord appeals to us with force that we should not even touch that which is untrue.Whatsoever things are honest
In considering whatsoever things are honest we may find a certain matter to be true, but at the same time realize that it is not worthy of our thought. To think along certain lines maybe dishonoring to ourselves or to others or both.Whatsoever things are just
The scriptures refer to the period of the time that we are now living in as the present evil word. We are surrounded by injustices of all kinds. But we must be on guard against continually meditating upon grievances and injustices either real or imagined. We should try to take life as it comes and try not to spend too much time grieving over injustices, trials, losses or hurt feelings. We should endeavor to keep our minds in harmony with righteousness.
To do this however requires considerable self-discipline, but the effort put forth will most certainly bring a blessing in return.Whatsoever things are pure
Anyone who can maintain purity of thought will have a good chance of being able to maintain purity of word and of action. This is of course easier said than done and will require a lifetime of effort. There will be times when each of us will do very well at controlling our thoughts and actions and there will be days when we utterly fail. On the bad days we should confess our sins and pray for forgiveness. Then go forward. Our Lord tells us that his strength is made perfect in weakness.
Impurities can come from the world, the flesh or the devil. It’s attack is first of all on the mind, and if it can be stopped there a victory is won. If the impurity is not stopped at once there is no way to know what the consequences will be. Although in James 1:15 the apostle tells us that lust or selfish desire of any kind when it has conceived in the mind bringeth forth sin, whither it be sinful words or deed and sin when it is finished bringeth forth death. It is no wonder then that the apostle mentions the necessity for guarding our thoughts along the lines of purity.Whatsoever things are lovely
We should try to cultivate in ourselves loving, kind, and gentle thoughts.. These in turn will gradually develop into graces of character.. On the other hand we should avoid thinking upon subjects that generate anger and hatred and strife. We should avoid thinking quarrelsome or vindictive thoughts. These are all enemies to good character. Even though we may not be able to fully close our eyes to the injustices or evil deeds of our coworkers, neighbors or friends, we can at least refuse to waste time in thinking bad thoughts about them. And thus avoid cultivating a quarrelsome disposition in our selves.
Friends I don’t pretend to be able to do all of these things in my own life; I cannot. I have gone to the scriptures and to the old watch towers and have studied what Brother Russel taught along these lines. Brother Russel in turn went directly to the scriptures for all of his information. Between what the scriptures teach and Brother Russel’s thoughts we have an outline that poses some limits and gives guidance. We will profit from any progress we can make in adopting all these principles into our own lives. But again I freely admit that it is much easier said than done. Still I have decided to begin now to do what I can to develop my own habits of right thinking and that I believe will take care of my testimony.Whosoever things are of good report.
The world does to some extent recognize a right standard even though it does not follow that standard. Nevertheless if anyone will follow the standard that is reputable and think upon those things he will find therein a blessing. But for all of us here there is one thing and one thing only which fully combines all of the above propositions and demonstrates itself to be the one thing true, honorable, just, pure and lovely and that is the divine character and plan. We should all think upon its various features. We should all study the divine word and behold for ourselves the beauty of the divine character and the splendor of the divine plan, as revealed in God’s word. Whose length and breadth and height and depth no man can measure. We should endeavor to spend as much time as we can meditating on these holy things and such a ruling of the mind is like a conquest. A self-mastery that can only be described as a victory. As the scriptures declare.
He that ruleth his spirit or mind is better than he that taketh a city. Proverbs 16:32 [He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.]
The scriptures show us the importance of guarding the mind, the will and the heart saying keep the hearth all diligence for out of it are the issues of life. God expects us to be loyal of heart and that loyalty of heard should reach out and control the whole life.
Friends, in closing I would like to leave you with Brother Russel’s definition of good habits of thought as he expressed it to the brethren in an article dated back in 1895.
By habit of thought we mean that normal condition to which the mind habitually returns in the moment of mental leisure. While engaged in the active duties of life we must of necessity bend our mental energies to the work in hand for if we do anything merely mechanically and without concentrating thought upon it we cannot do it well. But when the strain of labor and care are lifted for a time the established habit of thought like the compass needle to the pole should quickly return to its rest in God. And may he add his blessing.