It sounds bad, doesn’t it? This Christian man saying that the bad traits, all the evil crud that is running around in my mind, led me to an abundant life. Well, it’s true, and it is, in part scriptural. Let me explain myself before my brothers and sisters write me off as a heretic.
There is a passage in the Old Testament that is only found in the more literal versions of the Bible that states “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Yes, a bit on the King James side of things, but the passage is correct. This bit of scripture is not even the whole verse, it’s what I’ve termed as a “flicker of universal truth”, and the Bible is replete with passages of this sort. What I mean by this is that the writers set up, either at the beginning, middle or the end of a chapter, or in this case, a verse, a universal truth of God’s Will, in this case, what a person thinks in his mind (heart), he will become in the physical what his thoughts are. There was also a book written on the same passage entitled “As a Man Thinketh”, and I would suggest that as reading.
I can’t speak for anyone else, so I will only speak about myself when I say that I’ve made some very bad decisions in my life, and I think it’s safe to say that we all have. I’ve struggled with issues of temper, money, short-sightedness and other traits, as most of us has. In my efforts to improve my life standing, I have read, in addition to the Bible, biographies of successful individuals that not only embody a life I would like to have, but also embody traits that I see as good. Throughout all my research, all of the people seemed to embody some common traits. I won’t list them all here as other authors have done the “heavy lifting” and have written far superior works than this simple note.
I read the books, nodded my head, I said “yes, these good traits are what’s needed to live a great life”,..and moved on without changing a thing.
Fast forward a few years later and you would find me hard at work in the kennels, running behind with what I feel, at the time, are my canine taskmasters barking their orders at me to “hurry up and scoop that shit!” I was frustrated, angry and the toxic thoughts that were racing through my mind was not only palatable by me, but by the dogs. “Hurry up, faster, faster, faster, and you don’t get paid near what you’re worth.” were some of the more pleasant thoughts that raced through my mind. I was a wreck for most of the morning with no signs of things getting better.
It was at that point that God showed me the thread.
All of a sudden, I remembered all the past reading of all of the great influencers and successes of our time. I remembered the character traits they embodied and what their thinking habits were like. They, as well as God Himself, had said that “as you think in your mind, so shall it be”. I stopped and realized something profound in the middle of the barking and smell, that all of the bad crud in my noggin’ was also manifesting in the physical world. My anger and frustration was affecting my body and actions, which was being picked up by the dogs, which was feeding my every growing emotion and toxic “big dog” thoughts.
I kept following the thread.
I started to wonder, “did all those successful people make decisions based on gluttony?” The answer would be an emphatic “NO”, but I was. Not only gluttony, but other areas of what the Bible calls “the flesh” as found in Galatians 5:19-21. Now keep in mind, I wasn’t indulging in adultery, murder or a lot of the rest, but I was following the flesh with regard to sensuality (the senses), idolatry, strife, jealousy and a list of others. I was thinking on these things and I was becoming it.
So, now I understood that the bad thoughts, the toxic things I had been focusing on had manifested themselves though my choices. My choices brought about consequences. My consequences started to build areas of my life that were,..well,..not good. I understood now that I had to make a change, so what did I do, I did what I always did and prayed to God, “Lord, please give me more money, so I can get out of this situation”, and “Jesus, please put me in a more secluded place so I won’t get angry and wrathful”,….you know, the standard prayers.
Then God showed me that thread again.
If the fleshly thoughts made me into the man I was today, then the “fruits of the Spirit” should make me into the person I want to be.
It was then that the rest of the Galatians passage came to mind (Galatians 5:22-23). Here was a list of qualities that embodied all that I wanted to become and all that I had seen in others. They were not things that I had to work for, they were things that were already given to me by God Himself through the Holy Spirit.
I began to go through all the qualities and thought “man, I’ve been praying for tangible stuff when I should have been “picking the fruit off the vine” all along.” When I realized this, I remembered other passages that talked about God giving us wisdom without reservation (James 1:5-6) and strength (Philippians 4:11-13). All of these traits, these fruits, these thoughts were at my disposal, not from anything that I could do, but from the living God, and his gifts never run out and are never denied to His kids.
Later on that week, the morning was starting off like they usually do, with stress. I was beginning my cleaning duties and I could feel those thoughts, those toxic “big dogs” sniffing around my cranium, but I was prepared for them. I prayed “God, I need gentleness, peace and joy right now.”, and without a moment’s hesitation, the toxic dogs stopped their barking! Oh sure, they tried to yelp throughout the morning, but I prayed for the fruits instead of the outward stuff and everything changed immediately.
When this kid realized that he had all the things he needed to become a success in anything for the glory of God already given to him, the “what to pray for” question became a simple answer AND I was not denied and have not been denied these fruits / promises since I’ve started this new tapestry of my life with the thread that God showed me in the kennels.
God doesn’t want us to live in poverty, and that goes for all things and all areas of life. He wants us to have an exceptional existence so we can point the finger back to Him, give Him the credit and be a light in the world to lead people to Jesus.