I remember how excited I was when I found a “Thinking Grid” in my Bible. A timeless tool that has provided guidance to Christians for centuries. This Thinking Grid specifies what thoughts to allow in your mind. And since thoughts influence words, it has direct influence on your speech and relationships.
The Thinking Grid is found in 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.”
The grid defines what kinds of thoughts to practice and which to eliminate. Another Scripture lends help in interpreting the grid. Eph. 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, 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 another person’s well-being. In contrast to unwholesome, the grid gives words that promote well-being. Words are power. They can heal or wound. Why not use your word power to build others up. To lovingly help them grow. Interestingly, you’ll find yourself being built up and growing at the same time.
How do you know what will build someone else up? Try to identify that person’s needs. I do not mean to play into any victim complex, dysfunction, or manipulative behaviors they may have erected to control what others say to them. I mean – what does that person genuinely need to hear to help them become more healthy? How can you encourage them with hope? How can you challenge them to raise their personal bar and to live with kindness? How can you help them choose truth?
The more you practice being authentic and honest, kind and professional (especially in your home and private life), admitting where you need accountability – the more you are able to speak truth and hope to someone else.
If you pray before speaking, your word choices will be better – if you are listening to God’s Spirit. The goal is not to just say what you think. It’s to say what God thinks. It’s not to help you feel better. It’s to help your hearer be better. This is loving that person. It is loving God. It is loving yourself enough to practice good character. Jesus had a great approach when He lived on earth. He only said or did what the Father told Him to. (Jn. 8:28) He exercised much kindness, patience, and thoughtfulness. Yet, He also exercised accountability.
If there is any bitterness, rage, anger, arguing, or “put-down” talk – step away! Pause. Pray. Surrender your heart in those moments. Quickly review Scripture’s Thinking Grid. It only takes seconds – seconds that train your responses. Memorize this grid ahead of time so it’s an instant resource to you.
Malice is any desire to injure, harm, or hurt another person. To get back at them. If you’ve been hurt yourself, this is a critical guideline because hurt people hurt people. Ask God to help you side-step hurting someone else out of your own hurt. Ask Him to redeem your hurt by transforming it into kindness and mercy that helps another person and serves your character, as well.
Practice godly thoughts and attitudes. Forgive others for hurting you. Use Scripture’s Thinking Grid in your daily scenarios.
Let’s all keep working hard on this. What thoughts will you focus on today from the grid?