With the arrival of spring, I always start to think about my garden, what worked last year and what didn’t, what needs to be changed and, perhaps most fun of all, what new things I’m going to plant. Those new plants often come from seeds.
Have you ever stopped to think about the seeds that come from plants? Cut open a bell pepper in your kitchen and there are seeds. Take a bite of watermelon in the middle of summer and what are you likely to spit out? Seeds. Seeds are all around us, yet I suspect most of us don’t pay them much thought.
I often see the sidewalks littered with seeds that have fallen from trees. Maple trees can drop hundreds if not thousands of seeds. A single columbine plant no doubt produces thousands of tiny black seeds. And I would venture to guess that a hundred foot tall pine tree could have seeds in the tens of thousands each year.
What happens to all those seeds? Do they all germinate and produce new plants?
Obviously the answer is no. Millions upon millions of seeds are produced, yet perhaps 1/10 of 1% actually germinate, and an even smaller percentage becomes full grown plants or trees.
I wonder if seeds are not much like our thoughts. If you’re anything like me, your thoughts are going all the time. It seems impossible not to think. Sometimes my thoughts are good, sometimes they’re not so good. Sometimes my thoughts are edifying, other times they can be quite vindictive. The key ultimately is what becomes of my thoughts. Not every thought should be acted upon, yet there are also thoughts that are good and should be acted upon, but for one reason or another I don’t do so.
Should we allow ourselves to think whatever comes to mind?
Just as a seed will only produce the same plant from which it came, so too our words and actions will be positive, negative or neutral depending on what we are thinking. It is impossible for vindictive, bitter or malicious thoughts to show themselves in kind, loving and encouraging words and actions.
Jesus said, “A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matt. 7.17). He was referring to fruit produced by people. The fruit we produce in our lives always starts with a thought.
How do we know if our thoughts are worthwhile?
Paul answered this question when he wrote: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Phil. 4.8)
Any thought that does not meet Paul’s criteria is not worth pursuing. One question that will help us determine whether our thoughts meet the criteria or not is to ask, “Would I be comfortable sharing my thoughts with Jesus?” Those we would be embarrassed or ashamed to admit to are likely not worthwhile.
How can we change our thoughts?
The first step to changing our thoughts is to be aware of what we are thinking in the first place. As we pay attention to what we think, we begin to know what is worthwhile and what needs to be changed. Praying for the Holy Spirit’s guidance will help us know the difference.
Our thoughts are generally habitual and it often takes time to change a habit. Paul encourages us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10.5). By doing this, we can begin to form a new habit. As we recognize thoughts that do not reflect Jesus, we can lay them at His feet. Repeating scripture can be a great way to shift our thoughts from negative to positive, vindictive to edifying, dishonorable to noble.
God intends our lives to be filled with the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). This fruit starts with the seeds of our thoughts. If you are not seeing this fruit in your life, it might be that you need to plant different seeds.
What sort of fruit are your thoughts producing? Please leave a comment; I’d love to hear!
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