by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Matthew 7:15-20
I. Solomon observed about the miser that it wasn’t the man’s words or his actions that made him a miser, but his thoughts - Proverbs 23:6-7
A. People too often say things that they don’t mean
B. Given motivation, they may do things that they would rather not do
C. But it is their thoughts that determine who they actually are
D. Emerson once said, “A man is what he thinks about all day long.”
II. Our thoughts determine our character
A. What is the cause of sin?
1. At times people toy with the idea that it is the environment.
a. A mass riot breaks out in a town and people half-way-jokingly say, “It must have been something in the water.”
2. The Jews saw being unclean as a source of sinful behavior
3. Jesus said, sin originates in the thoughts of a person - Matthew 15:16-20
a. In other words, uncleanness is a cause, but it is not physical uncleanness as defined by the Old Law but the spiritual uncleanness of corrupt thoughts
B. Righteous people tend to think righteous thoughts. Wicked people tend to think corrupt thoughts - Proverbs 12:5
1. It isn’t because a person is righteous that they have righteous thoughts
2. It is the righteous thoughts that tend to produce righteous behavior in people.
C. The wicked is constantly thinking of evil - Psalms 36:1-4
III. Our thoughts precede our actions
A. We tend to do the things we think about.
B. Have you noticed Paul’s statement about his past? - Acts 26:9
1. He decided he had to act against Jesus, and so he did.
C. Simon sinned because of the intentions of his heart - Acts 8:22
D. In other words, good deeds come from good thoughts and evil deeds come from evil thoughts
1. This chain is so strong that you can often determine a person’s thoughts from his actions
a. John Locke said, “I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.”
b. This is way Jesus told us to watch the results of a person actions - Matthew 7:15-20
E. The Gentiles walked in the vanity of their minds - Ephesians 4:17
1. Their proud thoughts led them down the path of sin
2. At one time we all were like that - Colossians 1:21
F. Thus, while it is important to correct bad behavior, it is more important to correct the bad thoughts that lead to bad behavior
1. Hatred blinds people to the direction they are going - I John 2:11
2. This is why John connects hatred to murder - I John 3:15
IV. Our thoughts foretell our future circumstances
A. Most events are beyond our control, but the way we think nudges us in certain directions - Proverbs 21:5
1. A diligent man thinks in advance about what he needs to do next and the result is toward prosperity
2. A rash man who gives no thought about what is needed will end up in poverty. He makes too many mistakes.
B. Even when bad things happen to good people, they are prepared to deal with them and get beyond them - Philippians 4:11-13
C. Samuel Smiles wrote:
Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.
V. How do we correct our thoughts?
A. If the wicked don’t change, they will become like the people of Jerusalem - Jeremiah 4:14
B. Determine to live God’s way and your thoughts (plans) will be established - Proverbs 16:3
1. While thoughts tend to lead to action, it is also true that when you want to change your thoughts, actions can help give a pull in the right direction.
2. For example, if you are depressed, purposely doing something cheerful can counter the depressive thoughts.
3. David thought about the direction of his life and turned it - Psalms 119:59
C. Put your confidence in God and it will guard your heart and mind - Philippians 4:6-7
D. Learn and follow God’s teachings - Proverbs 6:20-23
E. Fill your mind with good things - Philippians 4:8
Ideas for the lesson came from “The Power of Our Thoughts” by Ken Weliever