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7 Ways To Fight And Overcome Negative Thoughts

Whether we've been affected by the virus, hornets, storms or earthquakes or not, the constant barrage of information and propaganda is draining our mental batteries.  However, these experiences aren't new, and the Bible gives us some clear instructions on how to fight and overcome negative thoughts.
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Our thought life is a battleground every day.  In addition, we’re dealing with mental fatigue.  Whether we’ve been affected by the virus, hornets, storms or earthquakes or not, the constant barrage of information and propaganda is draining our mental batteries.  This fatigue makes it harder for us to weather the onslaught of bad thoughts in our minds that happen to us daily.  These negative thoughts can lead to anything from longing to lustfulness or from deceit to depression.  The point is that if you let these thoughts linger, they won’t produce peace or fruit in your life.

One man knew about this struggle well.  Paul, the writer of many of the letters in the New Testament, was well acquainted with this struggle.  Paul was imprisoned, shipwrecked and even stoned.  He shares his struggles with us in Romans.

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!Romans 7:21-25 NIV

I know that for me it can be encouraging to know that someone so close to God could have the same struggles as I do.   Lucky for us, Paul gives us specific instructions to battle our fears and negative thinking.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:4-7 NIV

That advice works well and can bring comfort if we wake up remembering that.  The problem, at least for me, is that the onslaught of negative information all day, every day is wearing me down.  I didn’t really notice it at first, but it’s clearly affecting my physical energy as well.  For me, it’s not enough to simply rejoice, I have to examine the thoughts in my mind and kick out the ones that are there sapping my energy.

What do you do when this feels like it’s not enough to get peace?  You might have guessed, Paul tells us exactly how to do this in the next verse.

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.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.Philippians 4:8 NIV

As you examine your thoughts, put them up to the standard that Paul gives you and kick out the ones that don’t match.  You need to ask.

Is This Thought True?

We’ve all had bad thoughts, like “I’m not good enough.”  These thoughts are not true.  You and I both know that these thoughts aren’t true.  In my case, these thoughts are familiar, so I let them linger.  The question that comes up after they’ve been allowed to hang around is, “What if this is true?”  This is the same version of the lie the enemy asks, “Did God really say?”   If we want peace, we have to immediately dismiss untrue thoughts.  We need to know the answer to “What is truth?”

True thoughts are confirmed by God’s Word.

Is This Thought Noble?

This entire blog is written so that you can think like a Kingdom Driven Leader!  As an heir with Christ, we should set our sights on noble, worthy thoughts.  Another word for noble would be honorable.

Ask yourself:  Are my thoughts honorable?  Do they advance my relationship with God or His Kingdom?

Is This Thought Right?

True thoughts are thoughts you have about yourself that are backed up by God’s Word.  Right thoughts are your thoughts about others backed up by God’s Word.  Sometimes we have thoughts that “just ain’t right.”  As you examine your thoughts about others, be willing to dig a little deeper.

I’ve been blown away by doing this.  What I thought was a case of simple envy turned out to be resentment toward God for not doing something for me!  I would have never understood the root of this discontentment without going through this exercise.

Is This Thought Pure?

Ask “Is it tainted?”  Any thought that is not pure in nature is not from God.  God would never ask you to do anything that does not line up with His Word.  Two areas to check are your motives and your inputs.

Check your motives behind the thought.  Is this thought only to glorify God?  I’ve found that thoughts that seemingly have no connection to God, such as setting goals for a business, can in fact glorify Him!  He created us with gifts and talents to use in work.  When we’re using those gifts, we’re glorifying Him.

You may need to examine where the ideas come from.  Often times, we can watch something or read something and think it has no effect.  However, later on we find ourselves battling with a thought because we allowed it in front of us.  You need to be able to define wisdom because what you input determines your output.

Is This Thought Lovely?

Many of these words are like test words.  For example, you can test to see if your thoughts are pure or noble or true.  However, this word “lovely” is a reminder that God has given us tools to fight thoughts as well.  If your thoughts are going the wrong direction, you can think on lovely things.  Think on nature and it’s beauty, think on the loving relationship God has for you, or reflect on what you are thankful for.  Doing so will often help you reset your thinking.

Is This Thought Admirable?

Like true and right are related, admirable and honorable are similar too.  Honorable asks the question of your thoughts, “Is this thought honoring to others?”  While Admirable, is “is this thought worthy of admiration.”  That might sound a bit prideful at first, but compared to negative or hurtful thinking, it’s a big win.

Paul’s just saying, is this thought to be admired or admonished?

Is This Thought Excellent?

It’s my belief that Christians should be the most excellent and successful people on the planet.  As believers, we should hold our work, our relationship and our selves to a higher standard.  Related to my point earlier, sometimes our seemingly neutral vocational thoughts can be glorifying God without even knowing.

Peace

As I write this, I feel like God is saying that I’m way too hard on myself for the vast majority of my thoughts.  At the same time, I feel reminded to be vigilant about removing the small portion of thoughts that don’t fall into the above criteria.  Peace is available to us.  As Paul wrote, this peace won’t be understood by those outside the Faith.  The world is crumbling around us, and yet as believers, we have peace.  The peace than only comes from God.  The key will be to focus our thoughts on Jesus and be joyful for the many blessings we have now and in the future!

 

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