Controlling Our Thoughts
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:—Matthew 15:19
“The sins of thought are the sins to which most of us are more or less subject, and from which all of us long to be saved.
Our thoughts are the surest index to our characters, and to know a man’s habitual thoughts would be to know him as one could never otherwise know him. Our thoughts are the heralds and forerunners of our words and deeds. *Butler, in his Analogy, said: “The thought makes the act, the act the habit, and the habit the character.” *Thackeray amplified that statement thus: “Sow a thought, reap an act; sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”
A long time ago Dr. Samuel Johnson wrote these words: “He that would govern his actions by the laws of virtue must regulate his thoughts by the laws of reason; he must keep guilt from the recesses of his heart, and remember that the pleasures of fancy and the emotions of desire are more dangerous as they are hidden, since they escape the sense of observation and operate equally in every situation without the concurrence of external opportunities.”
Robert E. Speer well says: “We are not always acting, but we are always thinking. We watch our acts lest they be wrong, but we pay little attention to our thoughts. Whoever would deal with that which most deeply concerns his personal life must deal with his thoughts.” Another and still wiser man of an older time said;
It is possible for one to be saved from evil thoughts? We cannot control our thoughts by a feeling of moral or religious obligation, or by any direct effort of the will. The more we try to stop thinking about a thing the more we think about it, for we thus concentrate our attention on the very thing about which we want to stop thinking, and so our good resolutions fail.
- The only salvation from evil thoughts is to displace the evil thought by a good thought.
- The only way to stop thinking about one thing is to begin thinking about another.
- Salvation from evil thoughts can come only through the persistent culture of the pure. the noble, and the exalted.
If we would have pure thoughts we must be careful as to the books that we read, the conversations in which we engage, the pictures upon which we gaze, and the companionships of our intimate life.
No, we do not leave God and His power out, but God gives us the victory over the evil by turning our attention toward the good. It is God’s method which we commend—
No man can wade through seas of filth and remain pure. Try the persistent and intelligent culture of the pure, the noble and the beautiful, and with God’s help you will win the victory.
This is not empty theory, but the experience of many.”—The Watchman Examiner; Quoted From; The American Messenger; Vol. 8., No. 6; June, 1922.
* Several men have been credited for these quotes, including Butler and Thackeray.