Scripture of the Day: “Therefore I always exercise and discipline myself [mortifying my body, deadening my carnal affections, bodily appetites, and worldly desires, endeavoring in all respects] to have a clear (unshaken, blameless) conscience, void of offense toward God and toward men.” Acts 24:16
I love what Horace said, “Rule your mind or it will rule you“. Our mind is our own worst enemy. When I think of my mind, I feel like I have an enemy at camp – a part of me that is not on my side. My mind seems to go against everything I know is good for me. It convinces me that I’m too weak, I’m too stupid and a multitude of other negative thoughts. I fail in my mind way before I ever fail in real life. HOWEVER, that only happens IF I let my mind run loose.
Self control in your eating, your training, your language, and your actions all starts with self control in your thoughts. The evidence of a controlled mind is you kill the thought as soon as it appears and you act on them less and less. But this takes practice (exercise). Sadly, most of us are tempted to camp there in that thought, feed it and let it grow. Whether it’s food, problems, anger, doubt or negativity, we have a choice as SOON as that thought comes up to either feed it or kill it.
There are SO many scriptures about controlling your mind, as God knows how powerful our mind really is. In Acts, Paul is quoted saying he has to “exercise and discipline” his mind. Another version says Paul strived to have a “conscience without offense”. If you know Paul, these words have a LOT more punch than they first appear. Paul (before he met Jesus) was a murderer. He did a lot of bad things. So you can only imagine what thoughts came to his mind after he realized his wrongs and decided to dedicate his life to the ministry. Guilt, doubt, frustration and regret are likely thoughts that wanted to rule his mind. I know they would if I were in his shoes. Of course this is my own speculation, but anyone who has messed up really bad in the past probably has these thoughts that want to creep back up and sabotage progress.
If I were him, I’d think I was the LAST person to be effective for the church. If he lived in our day, we’d call him a terrorist, yet he was called to minister to the very same people who he once murdered and hated. I also imagine he thought he wasn’t capable or worthy. He probably had to battle thoughts of the past daily, and all the regret that came with it. He said “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” (Phil 3:13) The key point here is we can learn a lot from him, because if anyone had to battle his mind, it was Paul – and we are no different really.
We’ve all messed up. We can beat ourselves up for the things we’ve done, or we can kill those thoughts and feed thoughts of truth and hope. Whether we have thoughts and memories of poor choices, past failures or weight gain, we must learn to rule them or they will rule us. Even if it’s thoughts of regret for what we did yesterday (cheating on a diet, skipping a workout, etc) or if it’s thoughts of past failure from years of neglect or abuse, we must do what Paul did – forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.
Today, commit to exercising your mind as much as you exercise your body.