Right Action Follows Right Thinking
Do not be conformed to this world (this age) [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].
A friend once talked about a church building their congregation had bought. “Function follows form,” he said, as he explained that the shape of the building and the size of the rooms had already determined how they could best use the building. As I thought about it, I realized that’s exactly how our lives work. Once we decide the form, the function follows. This could be stated another way by saying, once we set our minds to something—that’s the form—the function, or the action, follows. Too many people want to change their actions but not their thoughts. They want to be free from anger, gossip, lust, dishonesty, or lying. They want the bad behavior to stop, but they don’t want to change their bad thinking.
The principle of God’s Word is simple: Right action follows right thinking. None of us ever walks in victory unless we understand and put this principle into practice. We won’t change our behavior until we change our way of thinking.
Many people struggle over trying to do the right thing. One woman told me that she had been a real gossip—not that her words were always evil, but she just liked to talk. It was as if she felt compelled to be the first person to know anything and then to pass it on as quickly as possible. She struggled with holding back or saying less, and it didn’t work.
My advice to her was, “Until you change your way of thinking, you won’t be free.” Then I said I would be glad to pray for her, but added, “You must be accountable.” “I am—and I will be—” she interrupted.
“No, you haven’t heard me. You want deliverance from all the gossip, but you don’t want to make any changes in your thinking. It just doesn’t work that way. You need deliverance in your mind; then your words and actions will change.”
She resisted my words, but she did ask me to pray for her, which I did. When I finished, she began to cry. “As you prayed, I understood. God showed me how insignificant and unimportant I feel. When I’m the first to pass on information, it makes me feel good—at least for a while—and important.”
She had been asking us to pray for her to change her behavior, but she still wanted to feel good about what she did. She had to shift her thinking and learn to accept that she was worthwhile and loved by God just for being who she was. Once she learned to change her way of thinking—and she did over a course of weeks—she no longer had a problem with her tongue.
It’s impossible to change wrong behavior to right behavior without an attitude adjustment, which means that first we change the way we think.
I like the way Paul taught in Ephesians 4. He contrasted the old nature with the renewed mind. He admonished his readers: “Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], and put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness (4:22–24).”
Another translation puts it this way: “Let the Spirit change your way of thinking, and make you into a new person. You were created to be like God, and so you must please him and be truly holy” (4:23–24 cev).
There it is: Let the Holy Spirit change your way of thinking. That’s the only way you can make permanent changes in your life.
Holy Spirit, thank You for Your ability to help me change my thinking. Help me strip myself of the old ways of thinking so that You can work in me to make me more like Jesus Christ. It’s in His name that I pray. Amen.
by Joyce Meyer
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