Sunday, March 22, 2009
We are what we think, and the thoughts we choose to entertain determine who we become. It is easy to choose thoughts of criticism, contempt, or contention. These thoughts come naturally to most. Thoughts of civility, compassion, and cheer may require effort, especially when we are weary, weak, or worldly.
A Tibetian Buddist monk was released by the Chinese after years of torture and imprisonment. He met with the Dalai Lama and said, "My greatest concern throughout my captivity was that I would lose my compassion for the Chinese." Because the monk decided to think loving thoughts during years of abuse, he returned to Tibet a peaceful and happy man.
We may want to consider who and what do we think about during the day. How do we think about ourselves and others? What thoughts do we hold onto? What attitudes do we nurture and which do we reject? "As a man (woman, teen, or child) thinketh in his heart, so is he" is a simple, and yet profound, truth.
Three thoughts help when times are tough. We can remember that this, too, shall pass. Some trials are temporary ones. Just as cold winter days eventually moves to sunny spring ones, so the challenges you face today may become blessings tomorrow as you learn patience, tolerance, and love. If our trials are lifelong, we can trust that God, who has suffered all, understands all. He waits to embrace us at the end of our journey and promises that He will wipe away all of our tears. We can also choose an attitude of gratitude. Paul said that although he felt sorrowful, he always rejoiced. Keeping a gratitude journal helps us remember that even amid sorrow, we have been given much.
Peace is a fruit of the Spirit and is available to anyone who seeks to pursue a path of goodness and virtue. Paul said that fruits of the Spirit include “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." Isaiah said, “The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.”
Although no one is perfect--with the exception of an innocent child---we can find peace as we listen to the voice of the Spirit and turn off the voices that destroy the Spirit. We may want to turn off voices that
• rehearse the mistakes and failings of others.
• encourage us to trust in man rather than God.
• invite us to approve of materialism or immorality.
• denounce mercy, meekness, or faith.
• tell us that we are not divine children of God.
• tempt us to persue pleasure rather than peace.
• ask us to “spend money for that which is of no worth, [and] labor for that which cannot satisfy.”
• entice us to seek a "high" in addictive or self-defeating pursuits.
As we choose our thoughts, we choose the path of life or death, of hope or despair, and of peace or discord. Isaiah promises that God will keep us in perfect peace if we stay our minds on Him. Today, let us choose peace.
© Carol Brown