Matthew 5:21-30 ESV
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 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. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.“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. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
1. Thoughts matter. 1 John 2:7-11
Thoughts are the highway builders of your mind. The thoughts you allow to repeat will build the fastest and most reliable roads. Our thoughts create pathways in our brains that produce attitudes and behaviors.
Everything flows out of the way we think.
Battles start in our minds.
Our thoughts aren’t as private as we think they are. God knows about them, and eventually they come out in our actions.
Before hate manifests as a behavior, it starts as a thought.
2. Thoughts have a mind of their own. Luke 6:45; Matthew 5:22,28
Our thought patterns allow others to pattern us - they learn how to push our buttons.
When we think something long enough, we actually stop thinking about it. It becomes a reaction rather than a conscious decision. Once a highway is built, it’s hard to dig up.
If you think about hate, jealousy, anxiety enough, you will start to think about it, without thinking about it!
If we focus long enough on nonsense, there will no longer be any room for common sense.
3. Dig up the old road. 1 Cor. 9:27; 2 Cor. 10:55; 1 Cor. 13:1-7
Slow down and compare what you’re thinking to scripture. If you don’t know the truth, it cannot set you free.
*Take Every Thought Captive*
New behaviors first require new thoughts.
If we have built a road, we have to dig it up on purpose. It won’t change by itself.
Before we can be generous with our thoughts, we have to have thoughts to be generous with. Rip up the path and plant new grass - scripture is the seed.
Practical Ways to be generous with our thoughts:
1. Believe the best in people.
2. Stop assigning motives.
3. Realize everyone is in process.
4. Learn to be empathetic.
1. Why is it hard to change a negative habit once it has been developed?
2. How much influence would you say your thoughts have on your actions, the choices you make, the way you treat people, etc?
3. Does it matter if you think negatively but your actions are not harmful? What has led you to believe this? Did this week’s message confirm what you already knew about thoughts, or did it give you something new to think about?
4. When is it most challenging to think before you speak? Is it in your workplace or home or relationship? With your children or family?
5. How can we first compare our thoughts to the Word/Christ’s desires before we speak? What new highways need to be made in your mind?
6. Pastor Chris named some ways to help us change our thoughts. Which of these do you think will help you the most? What do you want to try first? Which of these do you expect to be the most challenging for you?
*Retrain my brain by finding some scriptures to focus on when my thoughts aren’t generous toward other people.
*Spend time asking God to give me a heart for other people.
*Choose to believe the best about people.
*Stop assigning motives
*Realize everyone is in a process.
*Learn to be empathetic - put myself in the other person’s place to try to understand where s/he is coming from. “Empathy is a lost art in the modern brain.” It takes effort - it doesn’t come naturally.