A few weeks ago, I got a special letter from one of my old friends. Inside the envelope was a beautiful card with my name hand-lettered across it. And, as soon as I started reading, my heart melted at her words…
“‘She was beautiful for the way she thought.’…Abigail, you are so beautiful, on the outside and on the inside!”
I could only sit there, searching my sunken heart. I read the note again. And again. Each time, the same question pounded in my head. “Am I truly beautiful on the inside?” What if my friend, or anyone else, could read my thoughts every day? Would they still call me beautiful?
I don’t think they would. Not always.
My mind isn’t always a Philippians 4:8 model. My thoughts aren’t always beautiful like I wish they were.
It’s so easy for me to let my mind wander and camp out in places it shouldn’t be. Because really, what’s the harm, right? No one can see my thoughts. Everything is locked up tightly in my head. I can still have a good heart and entertain wrong thoughts, can’t I?
Nope. Not for a second. Anytime we let ourselves believe those lies, we’re climbing a dangerous slope.
Jesus never said, “As long as you do the right thing on the outside, you can let your thoughts do whatever they want.” Or, “Your mind doesn’t have to love me. Just your heart.” But He did say,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27a, ESV).
“What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them” (Matthew 15:11, NIV).
Jesus knew that the content of our thoughts would control our actions. He doesn’t want us to throw our thoughts around like confetti because what comes out of our mouths—how we act—Is a product of how we think. How we think can either enhance our beauty or completely corrupt it.
In Romans 12:2, Paul was writing to the church in Rome, pleading with them to break free from the world. We often think of this verse as a command to live set-apart lives, but Paul was digging deeper than outward separation.
He pleaded with the church to renew their minds. To have thoughts that are unstained by the world.
“ Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2, ESV).
Without Christ-centered minds, we can’t live Christ-centered lives. At least not whole-heartedly. We can’t feed hatred, lust, or anger in our minds and walk in the light of Christ at the same time. It just doesn’t work.
Yet over and over again, I try to make it work.
Isn’t that true of all of us? Aren’t we all inclined to only display the good things? We want to show our growth without admitting the ugliness that had to be weeded out in the growing process.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying we should walk around telling everyone about the sinful thoughts in our heads. But how much more careful would we be, if everyone around us could see our thoughts?
If the whole world saw our minds, would they see hypocrisy? Would they see contradiction between the way we live and the way we sometimes think? Or would they see a mind committed to obeying Christ? To loving Him as much as our hearts desire to love Him?
What if, instead of looking at our minds as a haven for hidden impurity, we treated them as the temple that they are? (1 Corinthians 6:19) What if, instead of just settling for good intentions in our hearts, we acted out those intentions by controlling our thoughts? What if we lived as if Jesus sees our every thought?
Because He does. He reads every word that floats across our brainwaves. He sees every image we paint with our imaginations.
How do your thoughts make Him feel? Do they break His heart? Do they make Him cringe? Or do they bring a smile to His face? Does Jesus call you beautiful?
God wasn’t playing around when He told us to love Him with every fiber of our being (Luke 10:27a). And y’know what? As much pleasure as we may get from entertaining lust or impurity, there is so much more satisfaction in wholly loving Him. He knows what’s best for us. He knows what makes happy and beautiful. And that is walking in His holiness.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV).
Will we ever be perfect at handling our thoughts? No. Our fallen nature has tainted our inward beauty. But when we run to Jesus, He will bring our thoughts under subjection. His grace is overwhelming in our weaknesses.
I want to love Jesus, not just with outward service and pretty words—but with my whole heart, my whole soul, and my WHOLE mind. I want my heart’s adoration for Him to be evident in the way I think. My aim is to be completely captivating on the inside.
What about you?
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV).