Today I had Chinese takeout for lunch. The end of the meal always consists of eating the fortune cookie. It said something like don’t just think about it, act on it. Though I am not into fortune cookies, despite finding them tasty for being crispy bits filled with air, the words on the little slip of paper are a great reminder to us all.
See we can all think about living for Christ. We can all think about being a shining light. We can all think about what is good and pure and holy. We can think about how it is good to help the needy. We can think about how it is important to love others. But where does thinking get us? What happens if we all just sit and think and no one does a thing?
Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Today I pray that thinking isn’t the only thing you are doing. Actions speak louder than words. James said to be doers of the word. It’s important to ponder things. It’s important to not rush into things. But if we do nothing else but think, if we never be the hands and feet of Christ, then we miss so many great opportunities. Take advantage of each opportunity. God put these people in your path for a reason.
“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” – James 1:22 [NIV]
As I have been reading Job, I am gleaning so much from the suffering and continuing speeches between Job and his friends. In Job 21, he says that he “will have nothing to do with that kind of thinking” (v. 16 NLT). Those words certainly peak my interest. Are there times in our lives when we should say that we will have nothing to do with a particular kind of thinking?
Job was suffering from the loss of his family, his land and possessions, and his health. He lost so much and yet he understood the importance of not letting particular things get into his head and cause him to be pulled into another area. We are to focus on what is pure, what is true, what is right—and so there are times when we would put our hands up and say we will have nothing to do with a particular kind of thinking.
If you accept a type of thinking, it will blossom and it will continue to spread and be more difficult to remove. Job reminds us how we must be mindful of our thoughts as well as our attitudes. In keeping ourselves from considering particular types of thinking, we will keep ourselves from walking readily into a bad situation and planting trouble. If there is something that pulls you from God or could possibly be against what God has commanded, tell that something that you “will have nothing to do with that kind of thinking” and move onward. God has so much more for you!
“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 [NIV]
“After thinking it over, I spoke out against these nobles and officials. I told them, ‘You are hurting your own relatives by charging interest when they borrow money!’ Then I called a public meeting to deal with the problem.” – Nehemiah 5:7 [NLT]
I love the beginning of this verse. “After thinking it over, I spoke” is what Nehemiah says. It doesn’t say, “When I found out, I became frustrated and immediately took action.” Nehemiah thought about it, pondered, took counsel, consulted with himself… the HCSB says, “After seriously considering.”
Now Nehemiah had set to rebuild the wall. He waited three days before he even spoke up about what he wanted to do because he wanted to see for himself. He examined the area. He then delegated the workload so no one was burdened. It then comes to his attention that there are people who are very poor because of injustice. Nehemiah did not rush in to verbally attack those who were guilty. Instead, he thought about it. He took the time consider everything before he went forward to make accusations. In doing so, he calmly proclaimed the problems and there was then justice for these poor people.
Today consider your words and your emotions. We are to be slow to speak and we are to watch our anger (James 1:19-20). Again and again we are reminded. It’s hard to keep our mouths in check at times, but once something is said, it cannot be taken back.
The guy in front of my car was swerving all over the road. Someone might assume that the driver was drinking or sending a text message. But what he was doing was actually looking at what was behind him while he was moving forward. He demonstrated how hard it is to move forward when you are looking backward. You cannot be successful if you are paying attention to everything going on behind you.
Life is like that as well. If we invest so much time dwelling on our past, we do not have ourselves focused on the present. If we are looking down the road we just traveled to see all the road bumps and pot holes that bounced us around and messed up our car, we cannot see that the car right in front of us has just stopped.
I like to think that everything happens for a reason. When we experience something in life; however, we cannot get stuck in that area. God always wants us to move forward in life. He has given us a purpose, and it is not to get stuck. He wants us to grow in Him, to mature as Christians. He has things for us to do, and we are not capable of doing much when we are stuck.
Some things that we experience in life hurt. We may have been hurt by a situation, by people that we care for deeply, and even by ourselves. It is okay to have emotions and to need time to go through the process of change. When we are going through change, there is always going to be some type of loss in our lives. That loss will bring you pain and it needs to be dealt with first. If it is not addressed, you will be as this driver was in front of me, swerving all over the road, focused on what is behind you.
If something behind you is on your mind, acknowledge it and take the steps to grieve for the loss. If you cling to it, not letting it go, your hands will not be open to receive the blessings that God has awaiting. While you are stuck, God is still moving. Being stuck does not help you to go forward. Being stuck only allows your future drive to be as bumpy as the last ride. God has so much more for you.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
– 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 [ESV]
The story of the woman by the well always has been one of my favourites for so many reasons. After studying John 4 more closely, I read up on verse 29 and it got me thinking. Verse 29 says, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done, this is not the Christ, is it?” The woman asked this question when she returned to her people to tell them about her encounter with Jesus. What is important to note about this question, is the lady asked the question expecting a negative response.
I started to think about how we interact with Jesus in prayer. When we come to Jesus, do we ask expecting a negative response? Or do we believe He can do the impossible? When we are going through our day, do we believe God will provide us with the necessary provisions to do His will, or do we think that we will have to find another way? Our attitude has a lot to do with our actions and reactions in life. Our attitude also is a demonstration of our faith and of our relationship with Christ.
Now the woman by the well grew in faith. She went from not having any faith to having some faith. Then she ran to the others and she shared what had happened. Then they believed. What a journey! And this is the same journey that each one of us is on in life. We come to know Jesus and then we embark on a journey of faith. Little by little, we become stronger in our faith. At the same time, we begin to share this faith with other people. After the people of Samaria heard Jesus, they said, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world” (v. 42).
Maybe you are having a bad season in life or simply a bad day or week. Perhaps you are at a place where you are thinking negatively. Don’t be hard on yourself by limiting God. Don’t get discouraged and allow Satan to cause you to think that God has forgotten you or doesn’t care about you . Allow God to show you who He is and the faithfulness He has to His children. You never have to go thirsty.
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” – John 7:37b-28 [NASB]
“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”