I was taught that to think something is to do it. No doubt Mama taught me this so I could learn to control my thoughts. It didn't quite work that way. Too often I would think something and then decide since I already thought it, I might as well do it. This explains the failure of many diets.
I went to Florida to celebrate my brother Steve's 65th birthday. To celebrate, we went to a gun show, one of his favorite leisure activities. I collect books; Steve collects guns (I have more books than he has guns, but he is closing the gap).
We went our separate ways, for we have different speeds. My approach is to do a quick circle, then go back to what I find interesting (I found a booth that had books on guns). Steve, much like our father, makes a new friend at every booth. I mean, every booth.
We crossed paths after a couple of hours, and he told me he found a gun he wanted: a 41 German Luger pistol. I walked back to the booth with him (it was his birthday after all). The seller, Steve's new best friend, had just sold the pistol. Steve missed out on his gun.
Being the compassionate brother I am, I reminded him of what Mama taught us: "You know Steve, Mama also said to think it is to do it. So I thought about buying you that gun for your birthday. In fact, in my mind I bought it, and I have given it to you. Now the least you could do would be to say 'Thank you.'"
Without missing a beat, Steve replied, "I've already thought about writing you a thank you note. It's in the mail."
We had a good laugh and teased each other about the gift and the thank you note the rest of the weekend.
But maybe this is one time when Mama's teaching was incomplete. Whatever action we take first forms in our mind, so we need to monitor our thoughts. As I monitor my thoughts, I can reject destructive and unhealthy thoughts. Every time I reject destructive and negative thoughts, every time I do not allow them to control my actions, I win. I can think about eating a candy bar, but if I reject that thought, thinking is not the same as doing.
I wish I were the kind of person who never had destructive, unhealthy, negative thoughts enter my mind. That's why Paul called us to "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:1)." My mind has been under construction for a long time. At least the process has started.
What remains important, however, is that I recognize the harm that comes to myself and others when I allow the unhealthy, destructive thoughts to become actions. Stopping those thoughts gives me a better life.
Pay attention to your thoughts. Turn away from the destructive ones. Don't allow the harmful thoughts to become actions. To think it is not the same as doing it.
Although, I still wish Steve would send me a thank you note for the gun I thought about buying him.
Clay Smith is the lead pastor of Alice Drive Baptist Church, 1305 Loring Mill Road, www.adbc.org.