As a worldview revitalizer, I pay close attention to how we think. In doing so, I find that how we think is often in-congruent with how we live.
It is said that to err is human. Therefore, it’s not abnormal for us to be living in contradiction to what is true in multiple areas of our lives. What ought not to be common place is living out of sync with ourselves.
I once had a history professor who declared there was no truth to the degree that history was unknowable and facts unascertainable. Her very life was in contradiction to her belief. To make matters worse, she professed that plagiarism was an absolute moral wrong. She couldn’t fathom why her classroom of students thought plagiarism excusable under many circumstances.
If she wanted to believe that history was unknowable, that is her prerogative, but she ought to have gone all the way with it and found a different manner of employment.
Harmonizing our words and our actions
Today we have people who speak and live contradictions on a weekly if not daily basis. We don’t think before we speak and we say whatever comes in the moment only to contradict ourselves a few minutes later. We are careless with our words. We love things we moderately like or deplore things that we tolerate quite well.
When we do not take the time to be true to ourselves how can we expect others to trust us? We know we ought to keep our word to others, but what about keeping it to ourselves? When we say we are not going to go somewhere and we do, or we say we have made a choice to never do a thing again and yet we do before the day is out we are not managing our own lives. This is different from trying to stop a bad habit or sin issue.
Exchanging doublemindedness for a sound mind
The contradictions we live are both philosophical and practical. It is akin to saying we do not agree with listening to music on the radio while we are listening to our favorite tunes on Pandora. We may declare we are never going to even look at candy again and then we stock up at the after Easter clearance sale the next day. We think it doesn’t matter because we did not give our word to another person, but we are practicing doublemindedness and thus instability. We did not have to swear off candy, but we speak without purpose. We may mean it in the moment, but do not employ the forethought and self-control necessary to live in accordance with our words.
Speaking on purpose
Words are meaningful. When we employ them without purpose they fall to the ground and are wasted. It takes effort to think before we speak and only say what we are going to live out. We can’t live by the seat of our pants and the whims of the moment. To be stable and trustworthy persons we have to restrain our words and our choices to correspond harmoniously. If we did so, we would say far less and accomplish our own intentions far more often.
If we are going to believe or say something unstainable we ought to be prepared to try to live it out. Chances are, with a little examination of our speech, we will set our lives on a far better and much more livable course if we only said what we intend to make every effort to fulfill.
Analyzing our worldviews
In fact, when we condition ourselves to live what we believe, we are able to examine our beliefs in real time. They take form and that form can be judged to be useful or harmful. Ravi Zacharias teaches that a worldview (our foundational way of looking at life) has to make sense philosophically and work at the kitchen table. If it does not work in real life, then there has to be a problem in its philosophic level. If we do not live out what we believe, someone else may.
There is a classic Hitchcock movie entitled The Rope. In this movie two college students kill a third student and attempt to hide the body in the very room where they have invited guests to dinner. As it turns out they committed this crime, not because they had any ill will towards the deceased, but because it was the logical outworking of their professors philosophy. In a sense, it was the ideology of the professor that killed the poor chap. The professor is horrified to find his philosophy lived out. He was not prepared to live it out and yet taught it. Had he lived it out he wouldn’t have been around to share his worldview.
G.K. Chesterton wrote a delightfully imaginative story entitled Manalive where thinking is creatively brought to face its logical conclusion in reality. One man, a professor, who teaches the pointlessness of life, has an epiphany of the value of life as he is threatened with a revolver.
These are extreme examples that no one should try at home. However, the point is that our thinking matters, especially when we are going to think out loud and influence those around us. For most of us, this this is a matter of taking hold of our everyday mundane voiced thoughts. What are we saying about the world? Is it true? What if someone lived out what we are saying? What are we saying about our children? What if they believed it? What are we teaching about life when we speak?
Social Media: Facebook and Twitter
I once read a journalist comment that most social media posts have a thought life of one second. We think it, post it and it is there for the world to see. Is it true? Is it right? The answers to these questions matter.
There was a day if we did not have a platform of influence we may not be effecting very many people when we say something that lacks truth. Today we live in a world where a tweet can make it around the world in less than a second. Our thoughts can go viral before we have fully thought them. And most fully thought thoughts cannot be expressed in 140 characters.
Our words have power. We know that with great power comes great responsibility. Let’s be responsible thinkers and speakers. In fact, if our thoughts do not contain more words than our mouths we ought to speak less and think more. We do not need to be great philosophers, but we do need to seek wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Then when we release some of that thinking we have stored up we release it to be confronted by reality. We let it get tested by trial and fire. All thinking needs to go through refining and it is wisdom to submit it to that process.
Thus, we welcome people who think differently to challenge our thinking. When our ideas do not hold muster we go back to the drawing board. We may need to abandon them, or refine them before they see the light of day again. Good thinking does not just happen for it takes mental exercise and conscious alignment with the truth. The problems occur when we settle and stop aligning. If we are thinking the same thoughts from several years ago and they haven’t gotten thicker, more expansive, and haven’t undergone any transition, chances are we are in need of an overhaul. Seek wisdom and you will find Him in greater and greater measure.