I have friends that perhaps would not consider me to be their friend. It is possible to be a friend to one that is not a friend to you.
When Judas approached Jesus to betray Him, our Lord addressed him this way, “Friend, wherefore art thou come?” (Matthew 26:50) He was a friend to Judas in spite of what Judas had done to him. Certainly the difference is in the way you treat such a person, but there is a deeper difference; it is in the way you think about them.
The Bible teaches that love “…rejoiceth in the truth”. (I Corinthians 13:6) We will never speak the truth or do what is right until we know and think about truth. By this I don’t mean just having honest thoughts, but the truth from God’s Word. The Bible makes the claim to itself that it is perfect (Psalm 19:7) and right (Psalm 19:8).
One of the byproducts of pondering on God’s truth is that it establishes a standard by which the conscience operates. Then, God is able to direct us because He only deals in what is true. When we think about that which is not true we open our mind to selfish, unloving thoughts – which leads to unloving and sinful behavior that is personally destructive and that hurts others.
Eight specific qualities are given as a filter for our thinking in Philippians 4:8 and the first four indicate the importance of our mind being centered on that which is right. They are, in order, things that are “true…honest…just…pure”. Again, these requisites are not for our words, but our thoughts.
Someone said, “The most important conversation you have is the one you have with yourself”. It is said of Nehemiah that he “consulted with (himself)” (Nehemiah 5:7). Our thinking is to be bounded by that which is true, if it is to have good results.
Loving people is not always easy; in fact, much of the time it isn’t. If we only love when our mind agrees with our emotions, we won’t love at all. Our thoughts determine our feelings and love is not a feeling, but an action. This means true love is based on thoughts anchored in truth.
“Outlook determines outcome”, writes Warren Wiersebe. Your thinking is a prelude to your actions and the type of future you will have.
If a person is thinking, “My marriage will never get better”, it probably won’t. If you are thinking of a prodigal child, “They will never come back to God”, they probably won’t. When we think of a difficult person, “I cannot love them”, we probably won’t.
Years ago a good friend and I were having a painful conversation. He had experienced a lot of adversity, almost all of it self-inflicted, and had fallen from the top of his field to shame. He told me, “Rick, I’m thirty years old and I’ve already lived the best years of my life”.
My heart went out to him. I didn’t believe that at all and told him so. He was believing a lie, that things would never get better. As we have talked in later years (infrequently because he moved away) he began to change and not for the better.
Something broke in him when his life fell apart and he not only stopped thinking correctly, but my friend also stopped loving people. He became self-protective, selfish, and cut off almost everyone he had known in the past. It is sad because his wrong thinking not only led to foolish and wrong choices, but hurt a lot of people around him. And he doesn’t care.
Love is based on truth, but this assumes that we know and think about what is true. Remember, first you make your choices and then your choices make you. Likewise, first you form your thoughts and then your thoughts form you.
May you have thoughts centered in truth, today. It will help you to love deeper and consistently. Our families need that type of love – steady and lasting.