Our daughter and I watched a show with a cat behaviorist, Jackson Galaxy, together last week. The cat owner was a famous young woman who often tweeted about her cat and used some dreadful names for him in her tweets. Galaxy said something profound:
Words have power. What you speak becomes your reality.
He talked about how important it was for this woman to stop calling her cat these cuss word names, even on her Twitter account, and to use his real name. He talked about the importance of thinking about the good things about her cat and showing the cat some respect. Then he asked what she called her boyfriend, and she said she called him something like, “Stupid, stupid, stupid Todd,” when she was in a really loving mood. Yikes.
A woman stopping the negative, disrespectful, critical, condemning, hateful words is the first step on the journey to becoming a godly wife, too.
I learned when I began this respect journey that not only did I have to stop saying disrespectful things, I had to stop thinking disrespectful things. I also learned that as I stopped thinking negative things and focused on good things, godly things… my entire perspective and experience of my husband and my life dramatically changed for the better.
Whatever we focus on grows!
If I say to myself:
- “I hate him. I hate him. I hate him. I hate him. He should do this. He should do that. I deserve X, Y, and Z. He hurt me 12 years ago and I am going to rehearse every hurtful thing he has ever done to me over and over for the rest of the day. My life stinks. Nothing good ever happens to me. Everyone else gets to have a wonderful life and I am stuck with this garbage…”
Guess what results I will get in my heart, my attitude, my words, and my behavior?
If I say to myself:
- “I respect my husband’s work ethic, the fact that he comes home to me every night, the fact that he has been faithful to me, the fact that he took out the trash for me last night, etc… (whatever good things you can find about your husband). He is a precious son of God for whom Christ died. God loves him deeply and wants what is best for him. He isn’t perfect and I am not perfect, but he loves me and he is God’s good gift to me. God will use my husband, even his sin and mistakes, to help refine me to be more and more like Christ.”
- “I am dearly loved by God. My life is such a gift from Him. God is good. I can trust Him fully. Look at all the blessings He has given me today. I’m so thankful for my church and my friends. I’m just going to sing praise songs to God in my heart all day today…”
What kind of results will I get in my heart, my attitude, my words, and my behavior?
If the lady with the cat changes the way she talks about the cat, she will probably have a different feeling and perception of her cat. Nothing about the cat would actually change. But her experience of him would change. Well – let me rephrase that. The cat would respond differently to her different demeanor, body language, tone, etc… So, some things could change in reality, not just in her perception.
As believers, we don’t just change our thoughts ourselves. We need God to change our thoughts. Our perspectives do change as God transforms our thoughts. But then, our sovereign God also actually has the power to change our reality in every possible way, not just our perception or a person’s response to us. So there is a BIG difference between “self improvement” vs. total transformation by the power of God’s Spirit.
Now, imagine the power and impact of meditating on Scripture all day every day and what God would do in my heart and life as I think about Scripture and pray Scripture to Him! His Word is alive and impregnated by His Spirit and always accomplishes His good purposes.
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” Matthew 12:35
God’s Word says that our words and our thoughts have great power. I believe that what we think becomes our perception of reality, too, not just what we speak. Of course, God’s Words have infinitely more power than our words! Our thoughts or self-talk are the reservoir of all of the ideas we believe about God, ourselves, our marriages, and other people. What we say all day long to ourselves matters greatly! Meditating on God’s Word matters greatly! The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace! When we focus on and embrace God’s Words in faith – His Words become our reality – not just in perception – but in truth and in fact. This is why God commands us to think about only certain things to keep our thoughts from being contaminated with sin:
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
It is impossible to become a truly godly woman until we begin to take our thoughts captive and discard all of the sinful, destructive, ungodly thoughts by the power of the Holy Spirit living in us. Every single one of them has to go as soon as possible!
When God’s Spirit is in control, He helps us set a guard around our hearts and minds and He helps us to evaluate each thought and motive against His Word. When we recognize a tempting thought immediately and shoot it down, refusing to dwell on it, and we choose to dwell on God’s truth instead, the sinful thought cannot take root and grow in our minds and hearts. If that thought doesn’t grow, but goes down the trash chute, it won’t come bubbling out later in our words, attitudes, and actions.
This is HARD!!!! Well, impossible on our own, really. It requires the power of the Holy Spirit and constant vigilance all day, every day. I don’t have the right to marinate in evil, sinful, destructive thoughts anymore. Jesus bought me with His blood. Everything, including my mind, my heart, and my soul belong fully to Him now.
This is why I personally keep a prayer journal. As soon as I start to feel upset about something or notice negative emotions or begin to battle with tempting thoughts, I go run to my journal as soon as possible and start writing down all the things I am telling myself. Then I write down the truth of the Bible about those issues. I have to very purposely reject the lies and ungodly ways of thinking or the disrespectful thoughts and replace them with godly thoughts. If I don’t have God’s Spirit’s power, I can’t do this. But when His Spirit is in full control, and I am in His Word and abiding in Him in constant prayer throughout the day, He gives me Light to see each thought with His eyes.
I might want to ask myself questions like:
- Where did that thought come from?
- Lord, empower me to see with Your eyes, to have Your heart and Your mind. Illumine the truth clearly for me in this moment.
- Where would that thought take me if I really choose to dwell on it? What would the long term consequences be?
- Is that where God wants me to go with my thoughts? Does it pass then Philippians 4:8 test?
- What are my motives if I were to entertain this thought?
- Is this promoting pride, unbelief in God, disrespect of God, disrespect of Greg, selfishness, etc…?
- Is this thought promoting my will or God’s will?
- Is this thought going to breed fear, anxiety, lack of faith in God, or idolatry of some type?
- Am I feeling tempted to disobey God about something?
- Why do I want to obey God? Am I obeying Him to get other stuff from Him or to have Him and please Him?
- Are my motives simply to love God with all my heart and to bless and love others?
- Do I have expectations I need to lay down right now?
- God, I only want to think things that are pleasing to You. This thought doesn’t look pleasing to You, I reject it and choose to think about this other thought from Your Word instead about this subject.
Then, when my thoughts are pure and undefiled, I am walking in obedience to God, and filled with His Spirit – then He hears my prayers and His Spirit begins to also work miracles in my life on my behalf that go way beyond what my thinking alone could do. It is the prayer of the righteous man that is powerful and effective. If I want my prayers to be powerful and effective, I must walk in purity of heart and mind, and in obedience to God by His Spirit filling and empowering me. Then I have access to the sovereign God of the universe and His power is at His disposal to accomplish His good, pleasing, and perfect will in my life!
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
If God has been working with you on taking your thoughts captive, we’d love for you to share how you think about this and how you go about it – men and women are welcome to share. 🙂
AN AMAZING WORSHIP SONG TO HELP YOU SET YOUR HEART ON GOOD THINGS: