The Problem with Stinking Thinking and What to Do About It

September 21, 2017

Philippians 4:8

8 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. 

CONSIDER THIS

Today’s text often gets taken out of its context and put on refrigerator magnets, bumper stickers and all manner of “sit-arounds.”

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. 

I suppose this text is helpful in any context, but it will serve us to remember the context in which Paul writes it: Difficult circumstances, trials and hardships. Our thoughts and patterns of thinking have a way of setting us up for success or failure.

Proverbs 23:7 famously says, “As a person thinks in their heart so they are.” Though the source is disputed the following quote, attributed to Frank Outlaw, captures profound wisdom.

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

The force of the quote is this: Our thoughts become our destiny.

So let me ask us, “Do we want our destiny to be true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy?” Of course we do.   I don’t know about you, but my thinking needs work. In the recovery community they have a condition they call “Stinking Thinking.” Sometimes you will hear it said, “Stinking thinking leads to drinking.” My thinking, left to itself, will turn toward negativity. I can get down on myself and on others and on life in general. It is like someone in my brain is slowly dimming the lights, causing my vision to become constricted until I can barely see what is right in front of me. It leads to a type of depression akin to a low grade fever. It’s just there, quietly handicapping everything I do. I know a lot of you struggle in this same way.

Bringing it full circle, these ways of stinking thinking are death to joy. Remember where this whole conversation began? Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 

What if I thought of my mind as a garden? I would want to plant good things there. I would want to stay on top of the weeding, uprooting negative thoughts as they emerged above the ground, not letting them take root and spread. I would pay attention to cultivating my thought life and nourishing it with fresh water and yes, more weeding.

Speaking of weeding, I need to do some of that right now. You too? See you tomorrow.

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, we thank you for your son, Jesus, who shows us what it looks like to set our minds and hearts on things above. Come Holy Spirit and claim the space of our thought life that our mind might be a place of glorious light in the Lord. We pray in Jesus name, Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. How do you intentionally sow the true, noble, pure, admirable and so forth into your thought life?
  2. In what particular ways are you prone to “stinking thinking?”
  3. What might weeding look like in the garden of your mind? How can you catch the weeds at the earliest point?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

1 COMMENT

  1. But whether taken out of context or not, this verse is for me is the essence of a Christ like mindset! I have even boiled down to it’s simplest form to help me rememberize this verse, “P48”! Thank you for your insight!

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