I remember as a kid how excited I was when school let out for summer. That meant – freedom and fun. Then there’s the happy childhood memory of when I received a beautiful “Little Girl Lotion-Perfume” set from my grandmother at Christmas. As an adult, I’ve been thrilled when I owe less taxes than I thought – or get an extra bonus day off work. And at any age, there’s the joy of seeing new daffodils, tulips, and lilacs starting to share color and fragrance in spring. But nothing compares to how thrilled I was when I discovered a “Thinking Grid” in my Bible – a resource for better thinking!
A Resource For Better Thinking
So, I’ve told you about some situations when I have been excited – and there are many more of those little stories. And you have some, too. But, discovering this timeless tool in Scripture has provided guidance and training in a whole new way for each day.
As I began to apply it, this “Thinking Grid” started transforming:
- The way I approach problems,
- How I measure my heart,
- The process of evaluating my choices,
- My skills in aiming to be like Jesus,
- Reaching for character to become a credible, yet humble example,
- All while giving God glory for what only He can do!
The day I discovered this powerful resource, I realized I’d read it – somewhat mindlessly – many times through the years as I studied Scripture. I even memorized it! But I hadn’t realized its incredible value in practical ways, or how much it would change me, when I actually followed it. This day, things “clicked.” And something shifted permanently inside me.
As I used this tool in earnest, it began to impact my perspective, as well as my relationship with Jesus. As I already hinted, I’ve affectionately named this resource the – “The Thinking Grid.” It’s taken from Phil. 4:8 – “Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.”
What I didn’t realize is how excited I’d be to share this resource for better thinking. Some of you may be well-practiced using it. But others of you are on the cusp of an exciting, life-changing discovery.
How This Tool Promoted Better Thinking
The Thinking Grid defines what kinds of thoughts to practice. But it also defines what kinds of thoughts to eliminate because of the inverse message. Knowing what not to pursue is just as important as knowing what to pursue.
Another Scripture lends help in interpreting this grid. Eph. 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths [or use bad language – TLB], but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
The word “unwholesome” includes anything unhelpful to one’s own or another person’s well-being. In contrast to unwholesome, the grid gives words that promote well-being. So, this tool gives the very action steps needed to be healthy and godly. And it starts with what you allow to dwell in your thoughts. In other words, this small passage from Philippians literally sets boundaries in which to run a strong, accurate, practical daily race.
Words And Thoughts Have Power
Words have power. They can heal or wound. Words can change both perspective and beliefs, which directly influence your thoughts. Whether words are lies or truth, the power of speaking them normalizes how you think and what you then practice.
At the same time, thoughts have significant power. They directly influence words – like a light gives away what’s hidden in a box.
Since words and thoughts influence each other, the best place to start is with God’s words and thoughts. Is. 55:9 says, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Mt. 24:35b says, “My words will never pass away.”
So, adopting God’s thoughts and words empower and enable you to reach higher.
Adopting the “Thinking Grid” as a resource for better thinking affects what you think and say! Let God pour His power into your thoughts and words. And He does this in whatever is:
These are the defining markers of the “Thinking Grid.”
If you’re like me, it helps to grab onto specific action steps to know how to think and speak. Here are some helpful pointers.
1. Authentic, Honest, Kind, Professional
The more you practice being authentic, honest, kind, and professional (especially in your home and private life), the more credible you are to speak truth and hope to others. So, practice God’s character through application of the defining markers of the Thinking Grid – admitting where you need growth and accountability.
2. Pray Before Speaking Or Acting
If you pray before speaking or acting, your choices will be better – if you are listening to God’s Spirit. The goal is not to say or do what you think. It’s to say and do what God desires. It’s not to help you feel better. It’s to help you be better. Praying for wisdom helps you apply the defining markers in practical ways.
3. Practice Good Character In Struggles, Temptations, and Sufferings
Practicing good character in struggles, temptations, and sufferings pulls you closer to Christ’s daily conduct. Jesus had a great approach when He lived on earth. He only said or did what the Father told Him to. (Jn. 8:28) That’s a powerful statement. So, the defining markers are a kind of magnet that pull you into Christ’s character.
Jesus practiced everything we’ve explored so far. Yet, He also exercised accountability, which starts in your own heart first, then ripples outward to hearts of people around you. In other words – you go first. Then add others. It’s especially needed and required in order to live like Jesus. But accountability has wounding power if you don’t also apply the defining markers of the Thinking Grid.
5. Step Away From Bad Concepts
If there is any bitterness, rage, anger, arguing, or “put-down” talk – step away! Pause. Pray. Surrender your heart in that moment. Quickly review the defining markers of the Thinking Grid. It only takes second, and those seconds train your responses so God can partner with your obedience to transform you into a new creation. Transformation happens in the moment – by applying the defining markers!
Malice is any desire to injure, harm, or hurt another person. To get back at them – even if in a small or mild manner. It still happened in your heart. Consequently, small or strong, malice is something God detests in His children. It’s an automatic “get-rid-of” practice. When handling malice, always aim for the trash can outside your mind.
If you’ve been hurt, ask God to:
- Help you side-step hurting someone else out of your own hurt,
- Redeem your hurt by flipping it into kindness and mercy that helps another person,
- Heal your hurt, Himself,
- Train your character through the hurt,
- Transform you to be like Jesus, who suffered many hurts and understands your hurt.
What Else Can You Do?
Sometimes it’s hard to remember exactly what you are supposed to do, let alone what you are not supposed to do. So, get this Thinking Grid into your head and heart. As we already suggested, meditate and memorize on whatever is –
These defining markers normalize what you think, say, and do.
Memorize the Thinking Grid ahead of time so it’s an instant resource. Especially keep the defining markers on the tip of your tongue. Literally quiz yourself. It’s an essential way to keep brain skills, alertness, and focus sharp as you grow up and when you advance into older years. So, start this practice now – whatever your age.
Besides practicing the defining markers of the Thinking Grid, commit to do one more thing. Forgive others for hurting you. Forgiving make you very much like Jesus, and it propels you into the previous list – If You’ve Been Hurt.
Application Thoughts and Questions
- Will you commit to adopting the Thinking Grid to prove you love the Lord?
- Are you willing to work hard on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy? (defining markers)
- What thoughts do you need to put through the Thinking Grid so you can be changed and freed in your mind?
- Which specific action steps of this resource do you find most difficult to adopt?
- Will you commit to be authentic, honest, kind, and professional?
- Will you pray before you speak or act?
- Is your intention to practice good character In struggles, temptations, and sufferings?
- How can you practice accountability?
- Do you commit to step away from bad concepts? Knowing what not to pursue is just as important as knowing what to pursue.
- Will you memorize, regularly review, meditate on, and quiz yourself on the defining markers of the Thinking Grid?
- Is there someone you need to forgive to reboot your thoughts and words?
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