The Original Positive Thinkers

No one likes the thought of being stuck in a rut. The image comes to mind of a dusty old dirt road of perhaps centuries ago, when the wagons and buggies drawn by horses left it scarred with deep cuts into its surface by their thin wheels; the hubs of which were skillfully fashioned with wooden spokes, and their perimeters lined with steel. The ruts had been cut so deep that no vehicle traveling upon the road could break free from these trenches. The driver was literally stuck in a rut; he could not steer to the left nor to the right.

How fitting this figure of speech is as it describes one who has become so entrenched in a life of sin that it would seem impossible to escape the route into which the ruts have entrapped him. There is a mindset which predisposes one to disregard any consideration of spiritual matters, because his thoughts are so caught up in the matters of this world, stealing the time one might use to ponder higher things. During the days which livestock was used as a major source of locomotion, blinders would be placed upon a horse drawing a carriage which would keep that beast from being distracted by its surroundings. One who is tightly tied to this world often behaves in such a way that it would seem he was operating with blinders on, keeping him from being “distracted” by higher spiritual matters. In his epistle to the Christians in Rome, Paul notes that those who are focused upon worldly things cannot please God, because they do not even have the right mindset to please Him.

Rom 8:55 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

As this passage so eloquently teaches, one who is stuck in the rut of worldly thinking (minding the things of the flesh, being carnally minded) his end is death: that mindset, itself, leads one to death (in the spiritual sense, and ultimately in the physical sense). Since that one is carnally minded, he totally disregards any spiritual matters and teaching about God, or from God. That individual will not allow himself to be subject to the law of God, nor can one with that mindset submit himself to God. Obviously, that one cannot please God: he is truly stuck in a rut. Verily, he is lost in sin.

Further along in the Roman epistle, Paul exhorts the Christian to not be patterned after the ways of this world, but rather there be a transformation in the way he thinks.

Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

In order to overcome that mode of thinking to which we have become accustomed, we must be transformed by a new mind; a new way of thinking. Paul instructed the church in Philippi to:

Phil 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

How many authors of self-help books, and how many motivational speakers have taken advantage of this sage advice, promoting it, along with a positive mental attitude? Certainly, when one sheds himself of so much negativism, and dwells upon mature thoughts of better things, and good will toward others, his reward is a much richer life in this world, and usually greater opportunity, to boot. It seems to me that Jesus Christ and his Apostles presented a transformation of one's life through healthy thinking and rejection of evil much earlier than the modern motivational speakers. It is certainly noteworthy that Christians embraced this positive approach to life: but more importantly, dwelling upon the words of life which come from the wellhead of living water (Jno. 4:10); those words which make one wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:15); the source of true knowledge unto everlasting life (Jno. 6:47). The Christian is transformed by the renewing of his mind, and that by dwelling upon, “. . .the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy,” (James 3:17).

Many take pride in the fact that they are their “own man,” and do not conform to any body's ideas and expectations. In our Western culture we have learned to be as independent and self reliant as we can be. The term “self made man” is used for those who have “lifted themselves up by their own bootstraps.” The very idea of being stuck in a rut, or being a slave to sin, is just not acceptable to them. But the fact is, one who conforms himself to the ways of this world is indeed a slave to sin. As Jesus said, “. . .Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin,” (John 8:34).

Curtis A. Little, Royse City, TX

Curtis A. Little
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