THE POWER OF THE MIND, THE WILL—AS A MAN THINKETH, SO IS HE—THE POWER OF EVIL THOUGHTS—THE POWER OF GOOD THOUGHTS—THINK OF PURE THINGS—NOT EARTHLY THINGS—OF THINGS OF GOOD REPORT—OF THINGS OF VALUE—OF PRAISEWORTHY THINGS—EACH RESPONSIBLE FOR CARE OF HIS OWN MIND.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoeverthings are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoeverthings are pure, whatsoever things are lovely,whatsoever things are of good report: if there beany virtue, and if there be any praise,think on these things."— Philippians 4:8.
COMPARATIVELY few, even of educated and scientific people, seem to appreciate the great power of the mind and its potent influence upon all the affairs of our lives. Few mothers realize that their very thoughts have to do with the molding of their unborn children—giving them either helpful or injurious dispositions. Few fathers realize this, or seek to cooperate with their wives in the bringing forth of noble children—by stirring up the minds of their wives during pregnancy with noble thoughts, elevating ambitions, high ideals, with things of beauty, grace, art, purity, reverence, spirituality. When people come to know the power of the mother's mind for good or for evil toward the children, it will undoubtedly work a radical change in many homes; for it is our conviction that the majority of people would rather do right than do wrong, and that one of their chief difficulties and stumbling blocks is ignorance.
But while interested in mankind in general, we are never to forget that the Bible is addressed to the children of God, who have entered into a special covenant with Him through the Lord Jesus Christ, and who have become New Creatures through the begetting power of the Holy Spirit. The world will be taught and developed during the Millennium. But now, in the present life, the only opportunity for development is on the part of those who have received the begetting of the Holy Spirit, and whose great and only hope is a perfecting on the spirit plane in the Resurrection of the Just. As much, therefore, as we feel interested in the world, it is the Christian's duty to follow the example of the Lord and to be interested especially in his fellows, his brethren in Christ.
THE POWER OF THOUGHT
The Apostle's exhortation may be taken as a personal one by every Christian, and also as a general exhortation to the whole Church—that they seek to build one another up in the most holy faith and along the lines indicated in our Golden Text.
Each individual is responsible for the care of his own mind. In becoming Christians we gave our wills to the Lord, agreeing that henceforth we would not follow the dictates of our wills; but that, ignoring these, we would follow the guidance of the Lord's will. It was on this condition that the Lord received us into His family; and any failure to follow these terms is contrary to our covenant. The Lord through His Word gives us the necessary instructions as to what His will is; and these messages, received into good and honest hearts, bring forth fruitage of obedience, and this leads on to the development of the fruits of the spirit.
"As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." Many Christians have learned to govern their actions, to refrain from carnal strife. Many have learned to control their tongues in a measure, remembering that the same tongue with which we praise God could be used in doing injury to fellow creatures, as the Apostle points out. (James 3:1-10.) But restraint of conduct and of word is difficult unless the mind, the will, be brought into the line with the will of God. Hence God shows us the reason for what He requires, and sets before us exceeding great and precious promises. These are intended to work in us—to work in our minds and to work out in our words and actions the Lord's good pleasure, the Lord's will.
QUESTIONS FOR SELF-EXAMINATION
The Apostle, in our Golden Text, points out the proper course for us to take in getting control of ourselves, our thoughts, our words and our conduct. Every thought should be challenged; for if an evil thought or a selfish thought or a mean thought, a depraved thought, be admitted, it will germinate and bring forth a great defilement, which will affect our words and our conduct, and will extend to others. We may learn to do the challenging readily, even along the comprehensive lines which the Apostle lays down in this lesson. What at first may require considerable time for decision will by and by be decided almost instantly:
(1) Is the thought which is seeking consideration in our mind an honorable one? If so, it may pass in and be entertained. If not, it should be immediately resented and driven out from the mind as an evil influence.
(2) Is the thought suggested a pure one—not sensual, not selfish? If so, if it pass these examinations, it may pass on for further consideration. If by these it fails to prove its purity, it should be immediately resented as a thought likely to do great harm—as would the entrance into our home of things infected with a plague.
(3) Is the thought lovely? Does it appertain to things that are lovable? Does it excite lovable influences, or is it identified more or less with hate, resentment, anger, malice? If lovely, it may pass on. If not, it must be immediately expelled, not permitted to go further, to do harm to ourselves and to others.
(4) Is it reputable? This cannot mean: Is the thing well spoken of by the world? For the Apostle himself and our Lord Jesus were reviled by the world, who said all manner of evil against them falsely. The word reputable here must be taken to mean that which would be thought well of by all reputable people, if they knew and understood everything connected with the thought.
(5) Has the thought any virtue, or is it in any sense of the word praiseworthy? If so, it may be admitted. If not, it should be repelled; for even if it be blameless otherwise, the fact that it is not of any value is a reason for its rejection. We have no time and no place for things that are merely not bad. We desire to have in our hearts and our minds things that are positively good, helpful, beneficial in some way. Otherwise, the thought should be repelled as a mere cumberer of the ground of our hearts, of our minds, needed for profitable things. Much novel reading is of this character—not evil, but not advantageous, not upbuilding.
Whatever we may be naturally, the people of God who follow the instructions of the Divine Word surely become noble people, helpful people, possessed of the spirit of a sound mind; and these things will be only a part of their preparation for the Kingdom and for the great work then to be entrusted to them as the servants of God under their Redeemer and Head.