Changing thought patterns is a challenge, but it’s not how old you are; it’s how open you are that determines your success in the matter. Some people say that they are too old to change. But if the change is worthwhile, you are never to old to improve. Changing a pattern or mode of thinking is a difficult task, yet, it is essential to total change. If a person is selfish, it’s because of their thought patterns. If they are careless and neglectful, it often has more to do with their mode of thinking than who they are. Adjusting our mental habits is the first step to changing our hearts.
The scripture works to renew and cleanse our mind. Mental Renewal is a challenge. Not only must it be tackled through re-training old mental habits but also because supernatural grace (power) from God may seem far away. Make no mistake, to change thought patterns is an enormous task and one that is not always easy to perform. A person needs two things to change their mode of thinking: Commitment to change and the grace of God. When God opens the door to grace, we should use it. What do I mean by open the door? People come to a point of frustration, failure and hurt in their struggles that they realize that they cannot change on their own. When that moment comes, God is there waiting for them to reach out to him. As they repent and ask God for help with a heart to turn away from what’s ailing them, he gives grace or power to overcome.
The scripture tells us that grace is a gift.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
I don’t earn it or show God that I’m worthy to receive it by faithful church attendance, visiting the sick, or being a choir member. None of those actions will earn grace. God gives because He loves and I believe. A preacher so beautifully explained in a recent sermon that as I give my heart to God, then he lays out works for me to do as well. But our works will never be our calling card to heaven. He gives grace because He knows our needs. He understands that his creation is made from the dust of the earth and needs supernatural strength and intervention to walk the walk outlined in scripture.
God gives grace for mental renewal and new thought patterns. He explains in Philippians what is best to think about.
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. Philippians 4:8
I can testify that there was a complete renewal of my thought pattern when I accepted Christ in my life, but this came from a renewed heart. See, the heart and the mind are connected. The heart is the seat of man’s desires and affections. The heart and mind feed one another. If I am constantly meditating on negative thoughts, those thoughts become a part of me and sink into my heart and then, out of the fullness of the heart will come actions and deeds. If I want to change my heart, I must also change my mind. The mind is a gateway for what goes into the heart.
A few years back I underwent spiritual abuse. So when I came out from under that, it was difficult for me to trust people in religious authority or those close to them. I had struggled to accept what they said as coming from an honest heart and not selfish or evil motives. In the back of my mind, my spiritual leaders didn’t mean what they said or were just playing me somehow. I had to balance, on the one hand, being cautious and spiritually aware; while on the other hand, trying not to distrust totally the entire religious system I was a part of. If I planned to remain a part of that system of teaching, I realized that I had to change trust threshold. I didn’t want to be one of those people who sat in the corner and didn’t trust anyone. I slowly began to commit to the idea that every noise I heard in the dark was not a rat. But at the same time, I realized that it would be foolish to say that “no” rats existed and to keep my eye out for the big ones. As I committed to the concept of trust, I began to capture evil thoughts and cast them away until I could see a change in my heart.
If a person wants to change, they have to change their daily thinking, mental attitude, and focus. When trying to change, it is important to be around others that have similar positive or spiritual goals and focus. Like-minded people will nurture your good thinking and correct your wrong thinking. So many think that they can change their thinking on their own. It takes a village. It takes positive re-enforcement of right ideals and similar goals. Change can happen alone, but it cannot be maintained alone.
I remember how many times I’ve come among a community of right thinking people, and received help from something a person said or experienced that I was also going through. The vibrant testimonies solidified my thinking in the right direction. In contrast, I’ve also been doing well and came among people that were negative, and it created a heavier burden or completely threw me off track. Now, certainly God could sustain me if my only avenue was loneliness. He’s all powerful, but that is not God’s perfect plan to maintain change. To continue to keep a good mental attitude and right thinking one must meditate on the teachings of scripture, keep close communion with people who have similar goals and pray.
Those people that changed on the day of Pentecost did this to maintain:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer Acts 2:42.