"The Thinker" statue at the Rodin MuseumIn addition to our freedom to choose, the human ability to think is a marvelous gift from God. Using our minds is not a sin or curse. Thinking always affects choices and the will (heart, spirit), yet we can also use the will to choose what we mentally dwell on.

One of the most misused verses among Christians is Proverbs 3:5, “Lean not on your own understanding,” which is often code for, “Don’t think.” Yet thinking is precisely where, with God’s help, we take charge and gain self-control over sinful behavior that once seemed beyond control.

We’re often trained from youth to put on our “best behavior” and we carry that training right into adulthood. So anyone can change short-term behavior—like New Year’s resolutions, for example.

But long-term transformation out of ruin into Christ-like wellness begins in the mental arena of ideas, information, images, and knowledge. People perish and are “destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hos. 4:6) Spiritual renewal requires thinking. A people without understanding comes to ruin (Hos. 4:14), but we’re transformed by the renewing of the mind (Rom.12:2).

So if I want to change my behavior into something more compassionate or patient or generous, I don’t do it the hard way by trying to change bad behavior. Instead, I start by changing my thoughts. (more…)