Early in the computer revolution, the experts quickly discovered a universal truth that still applies even today. If the raw data entered is bad, the computer can’t do anything good with it. What you put into a computer determines what comes out. That reality coined a new phrase – “garbage in, garbage out.” What you put in determines what you get out. If your input is garbage, then your output will be as well.
This principle also applies to the human mind. The human mind has often been compared to a computer, although the mind that God created is far more complex than the most advanced computer ever designed. But the basic principle of garbage in, garbage out is still true. What you put into your mind determines what you get out.
Did you know that the average person has 10,000 separate thoughts each day? That works out to be 3.5 million thoughts a year. If you live to be 75, you will have over 26 million different thoughts. If you live to be 75, you will have over 26 million different thoughts. You have had at least 2,000 thoughts by the time you take your morning coffee break and another 8,000 before you fall asleep. Then the cycle starts over the next day.
But are your thoughts really so unimportant? Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Beware of what you set your mind on because that you surely will become.” Here is the point. The choice is ours. God gave you 10,000 thoughts today, but it’s up to you what you do with them.
I would not tell you how to handle all 10,000 thoughts well, because I can’t do it myself. But I would tell you to guard against the negative thoughts that could impact the way you think about God and yourself.
For example, feeling sorry for yourself. We all fall into this trap sooner or later. Life can be hard. Some rain will fall into every life. And it can seem unfair when everyone else is basking in sunshine, and you’re living in a perpetual downpour. When we encounter rain, we tend to blame someone else for our problems, to find a scapegoat. Someone is the source of your problems. It might be your husband or your wife, it could be your children or your parents. It often is a friend, a neighbor, or your boss or someone at church. We play the role of the victim because we don’t want to change. And our unwillingness to change reinforces itself over time because our behavior is not our fault. “God made me this way so it’s not my fault.” And eventually there is anger and bitterness. You remember every miserable thing ever done to you or against you. You stew over what people said to you or did to you.
OK, Marty, what’s your solution? Positive thinking by trusting God. I know that sounds both simplistic and naive. But it is a start. We just finished a study of Philippians written by Paul, who was the original positive thinker. At the end of his letter to the Philippians, he gives a prescription for positive thinking that if followed has the power to transform your life. Listen to his practical advice in Philippians 4:8. “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.”
In tomorrow’s devotional I will give you a few thoughts on how to apply what Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8.
1. Are you a negative person or a positive person? Did you make a conscious choice to be negative today?
2. Are you living in God’s peace or are you constantly churning?
3. Do you think you may be jumping to conclusions ahead of the facts?
4. Where do your thoughts go when you have some idle moments? How do you think God would view this situation?
5. I can’t imagine that there isn’t a single one of us who doesn’t need a little improvement here. Pray and ask God to help you in this area.