It’s hard to describe what goes on in the thinking process. It often feels like we’re not in control of it: like a thought is suddenly there. Often our senses trigger these thoughts. The smell of a lake always takes me back to my teenage fishing experiences. The taste of a cider donut sends my mind in rewind to the country fair in my childhood hometown of Grabill, Indiana. Music can do the same for me. When James Taylor comes on the radio, I’m back in college. When I hear a song from our wedding I’m a newly wed even though I’ve been married 25 years. That’s the power of our mind to tap powerful memories.
Yet the Bible gives us commands to control our thinking (Phil 4:8; 2 Cor. 10:5). More so the Bible reminds us that we will give an account for our thoughts and our words (Matt. 12:33, 36).
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus communicates that our thoughts matter to God. On two occasions he explains that God is aware of and holding us accountable for what we’re choosing to think upon.
The first has to do with anger, and the second has to do with immoral sexual thoughts.
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire (Matt. 5:22).
Because the Bible teaches that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouths speaks.” We can be certain, that when we’re angry, what we say was first a seed thought in our mind before it found its way onto our lips. God reminds us that we will be held accountable for our angry words that were first carefully developed as angry thoughts.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt. 5:27-28).
Jesus is saying: Pursuing wrong thoughts brings disastrous consequences
Remember, how the mind and your senses our connected? In this case, as the man takes that second look, his mind is memorizing the image for recall at another point in time. He is looking on purpose. God holds him accountable for those thoughts. Jesus says, “Listen, your thoughts matter to God, and he knows them as you think them.” Such a proposition clears up my fuzzy thinking about what I’m thinking. I always want to remember: My thoughts matter to God.