Devotional

“Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust.” – Proverbs 4:23-25 MSG)

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discern that we live in difficult times. Certainly “peace” would not be a word that we would use to describe the world we live in. The more likely words we would use would be pandemic, racial division and strife, and political division: The list goes on. And if the external difficulties aren’t enough, many of us face internal difficulties. It is easy to be discouraged and let negative thoughts run rampant in our lives.   

Those negative thoughts can weigh down your emotions and your outlook on life. Soloman gives some valuable fatherly advice to his sons on this subject in Proverbs 4:23-27. Notice that Solomon, king of Israel, didn’t focus on advising about royal matters like how to handle money, job responsibilities, or the best tips for leading the country. Instead, he spoke of more important things such as the value of keeping watch over their hearts and minds.  

Whatever our minds focus on is what will play out in our lives and eventually shape who we are. Our thoughts turn into feelings that have the power to control our lives, gradually steering us — and possibly our faith — in a direction we do not want to go. King Solomon knew this to be true and counsels us to be careful about what we think and feel. He knew it’s often our thoughts, not our circumstances, which cause us to be discouraged and negative. it’s easy to get caught in the rip current of negative thoughts. And when we think negative thoughts, we feel negative feelings, leading us to believe life is negative overall.

The solution is to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. When you catch yourself thinking a negative thought, try halting yourself and think of something positive. There are many Bible verses pertaining to our “minds” and “thoughts. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” Isaiah 26:3 adds, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” And finally Ephesians 4:23: “Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.”

Let’s ask God this week to help us “renew” our minds daily…and ask Him to help us conquer our negative thoughts as well.

Discussion Questions

  1. What happens to us inside when we overemphasize negative things? How does our negativity influence others? 
  2. What can you do this week to minimize the negative in our lives?