"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead..." Romans 1:20

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Thoughts are Things

 Alan Cohen included this little verse at the end of his essay, "Thoughts are Things:"

Sow a thought, reap a word;
Sow a word, reap a deed;
Sow a deed, reap a habit;
Sow a habit, reap a character;
Sow a character, reap a Destiny.

The Thinker by Auguste Rodin

I decided to track down the author of these words and found THIS on the Quote Investigator website as the earliest referenced quote:

In 1856 a newspaper in Colchester, England reported on a speech delivered to students which contained a statement that has remained in circulation to the present day. The statement was based on a causal chain reminiscent of the saying under investigation. The expression also used overlapping vocabulary items, i.e., habit, character, and destiny: 
Mr. Wiseman then cautioned his young friends as to the habits they contracted in early life:—”Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.” You sow an act, you reap a habit (acts repeated constitute habits); you sow a habit, you reap a character; you sow a character, you reap a destiny. Let them, he said, cultivate habits of industry, application, and order, and they might rely upon it, with God’s blessing, they would succeed in life. 

If you click on the link you'll find other variations of the saying down through the years.  Mr. Wiseman, of course, was referencing Galatians 6:7:  "Do not be deceived:  God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows" which is much earlier than 1856!  There is another famous treatise on this subject in James Allen's 1902 essay entitled "As a Man Thinketh"...so shall he reap.   

Alan Cohen's essay points out that "Thoughts are the building blocks of our experience; the world that we see is the one that we have created with our thoughts."  He says nothing is built without it first being a thought.  Our actions are the results of our thoughts--for good or for bad.  Our thoughts cause us to speak certain words--for good or bad.  Everything begins with a thought.  

So, if this is the case, as attested to down through the ages, why are we so careless with our thoughts?  Why do we let negative, self-defeating thoughts overpower us?  I think Newton's third law of motion can explain it: When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in  magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body.  In other words, if you think a negative thought it is surely to lead to another negative thought and then to another and so on until something stops it's descent, in this case.  

The Bible, again addresses this conundrum in Colossians 3:2:  "Set you minds on things above, not on earthly things."  We have to get our minds out of the gutter, so to speak, and set them on things of God--His love, His power, His willingness to help us if we would just ask.  

So, the next time you find yourself spiraling down into dark thoughts, stop yourself immediately!  Take some deep breaths and look up.  This will stop the motion of negative thoughts into anxiety and hopelessness.  Then turn your thoughts to God, to whatever is worthy of praise (see Philippians 4:8), and let the law of motion carry you in a different direction.

Father, this is why it's so important to surround ourselves with people who will notice and dare to confront us when they see us entertaining negative thoughts.  A gentle reminder that we can trust You to work all things out for good is all I need.

Link to scripture: Romans 8:28

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