Piece of Mind or Peace of Mind?

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. –Romans 12:2 NIV

It had been a long week. I was learning a new job at work, driving all over western Pennsylvania shopping for a car for my daughter—and suffering sticker shock in the process—hanging out laundry after dark, and trying to keep my cool.

The flat tire fifty miles from home didn’t help much, but I was proud of the way I handled myself after Mr. Road Rage tailgated me for several miles, then gave me a not-too-friendly wave as he roared past. Could it have been that I was just too tired to respond? Or was it that I was still thinking about the man who saw me and my daughter struggling with the jack and stopped on his way home from work and changed the tire for us?

Although this incident happened many years ago, I never forgot it, nor the life lesson it hammered home: I really am what I think (Proverbs 23:7). My thoughts have a powerful effect on what I do and say, on my attitude about anything. Dwelling on the obstacles I face, the mistakes I make, and the unkind things people do only makes me frustrated, stressed, and angry. But thinking about the good things that happen, however small, helps me to get through the tough times and become a better person.

Sins of the mind are subtle and sneaky because of their very privacy. No one knows what I’m thinking unless I reveal it. So I can think all the thoughts I want, no matter how bad they are, right? Wrong!

Sins of the mind are like a slow-growing tumor that masks its presence behind easily explained symptoms—until it becomes so big and exerts such devastating effects it can no longer be ignored. It must be dealt with, and swiftly. If you wait too long, the damage can be irreversible.

What are the sins of the mind? Harboring unhealthy thoughts, whether they be about the ways people have hurt us and the revenge we could seek, fantasies that have no substance in real life but give us momentary pleasure, addictions, a “poor-me” mentality that dwells on how everything seems to go wrong for me and right for someone else, another person’s faults … the list goes on—you fill in the blanks.

There’s no such thing as the thought police who bang on the door of my mind and arrest my unhealthy thoughts. I am the only one who controls what I think. It is I who must capture every thought and rein it in (2 Corinthians 10:5). That’s why sins of the mind are so dangerous. It’s like the fox guarding the henhouse. I need help!

When I want to rinse out a glass of water into which one of those pesky ladybug-like insects falls, I often hold it under running water, letting the clean water displace the contaminated water. This principle of displacement works for cleaning out unhealthy thoughts from the mind, too. Replacing the bad thoughts that contaminate my spirit, behavior, relationships, and reputation with good thoughts doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process.

Getting rid of the bad thoughts by filling my mind with the Word of God is like placing that dirty water glass under a wellspring of clean, fresh, renewing water (Hebrews 4:12). “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,” Paul wrote. “And the peace of God will be with you (Philippians 4:8).”

I have a choice—piece of mind or peace of mind. Piece of mind leads to turmoil. Peace of mind leads to harmony and serenity. Funny how it all comes down to one letter—the letter “I.”

Examine me, God, and know my mind; test me, and discover my thoughts. Find out if there is any deceit in me, and guide me in the eternal way. Amen. (Psalm 139:23–24 TEV)

READ AND REFLECT: Look up Philippians 4:8 in several Bible translations and meditate on the variety of words used.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

I Trouble

Photo by John-Mark Smith from Pexels 

Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought. –Romans 12:3 NIV

“I can see!” I emailed several friends after I got new eyeglasses. “No more lugging around a magnifying glass from room to room.”

I hadn’t realized how bad my eyes had gotten since my eye doctor appointment a year earlier. I should have recognized the symptoms—at 58, I’d been down that road before. First I complain the letters on everything from ibuprofen bottles to coupons to nutrition labels are too small.

“How do they expect people to read such tiny letters?” I grumble. Over time, I gradually realize the problem is not with “them,” but with me.

But still I was amazed when I got my new eyeglasses how clearer the letters were in my daily devotional booklet, on my computer screen, and even my own handwriting. Ever try to write with a pen in one hand and a magnifying glass in the other? I don’t know how many emails I sent with misspellings and typos because I couldn’t see them. I honestly hadn’t realized how bad my eyes really were.

Now I know.

I’m the same way with sin. First I deny I have a problem. I haven’t murdered anyone or cheated on my income taxes. One time I even went back into the grocery store when I realized the checkout person didn’t charge me for a package of lunchmeat. I was pretty proud of myself that day. Almost broke my arm patting myself on the back.

But sin is subtle, sneaky. Like the envy I thought I didn’t have until God revealed it to me. Like the pride He opens my eyes to see.

“I can’t be proud, Lord,” I protest.

I remind Him of how I’ve stopped fishing for compliments and how well I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut or add “Lord willing” or “praise God” to anything that sounds like I might be boasting. I jog His memory (like it needs jogging) about how I do things for others more and expect them to do things for me less.

“Look how far I’ve come, Lord,” I say once I’ve bored Him with my goody two-shoes list.

But look how far you have to go.

And then it’s His turn to remind me—of the times I say, “Don’t those idiots know they’re supposed to turn on their headlights when it’s snowing/raining/foggy?” Or when I complain about drivers who don’t use turn signals, abuse the right-turn-on-red law, run red lights, don’t come to a complete stop at stop signs, don’t stop for pedestrians waiting to cross the street (especially if I’m the pedestrian), or blast me with their high beams. It’s like I’m a good Christian everywhere but behind the wheel.

Lurking in me is a critical spirit that shows itself when I judge others. They might be wrong, but, like the Good Book says, I’ve got to take the log out of my own eye first.

There’s a fine line, I’ve learned, between pride and humility. Not a gulf, not a chasm, as we so often think. But a sneaky, subtle, sometimes invisible line only the magnifying glass of God’s Word and the updated eyeglasses of His Holy Spirit can reveal.

Not all pride is sinful. It’s OK to have pride of country, of accomplishment, or family—note national pride during the Olympics. It’s OK to break out the pictures of your kids and grandkids, to plaster a cling-on to your vehicle displaying the name of your little All-Star.

My mother never bragged about me. Maybe that’s why I have such a problem with pride. With being tempted to think of myself more highly than I ought. With denying that I have a problem with pride.

Where does pride cross the line from being honorable to sinful?

When pride focuses on self and becomes self-serving and blossoms into conceit, egotism, judgmentalism, and selfish ambition. It’s eye-opening to look up the synonyms of these words.

But, when we’re ready, God works in and with us to pluck out the root of pride so we won’t have so much “I” trouble.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts. Point out anything You find in me that makes You sad, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Create in me a new, clean heart, filled with clean thoughts and right desires. Amen. (from Psalms 139:23–24; 51:10 LB)

 Read and reflect on Matthew 7:1–5.

 From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.