Stinky Thoughts

Stinky Thoughts

For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? 1 Corinthians 2:11

Growing up, we all knew those kids who simply didn’t possess great hygienic habits. My concern back then was that they appeared to be used to it, remaining unaware of the problem. What if, I thought, I smell bad too and I’m just used to it? I still find myself thinking about this at the gym sometimes. Did I put on deodorant this morning? What if I forgot and I’m just used to my own body odor?

That’s the problem of course. It’s not that our nose doesn’t work. We can pick up any faint new scent. Even repulsive smells, when we’re continually exposed however, become tolerated eventually. After enough time at the zoo, the smell just becomes normal. When someone walks in for the first time though, it’s obviously unpleasant.

The same thing happens with our thoughts. In today’s passage, Paul described this secret place we have in our minds. We all have thoughts that no one else knows. We all keep some things hidden because we don’t want anyone to know every deep, dark thought we have. If others knew everything going on in our heads, we’d be mortified and we’d certainly control our thoughts better.

Like odors though, we become accustomed to those secret, dark thoughts. If someone else walked in, they’d be disgusted, but we find ourselves quite comfortable in our own stench. The problem of course, is that our behavior begins in our thoughts. If our minds are rotten, that decay manifests in our words and actions.

This is why we’re commanded elsewhere by Paul to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). Daily, we must take our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), abandoning the self-destructive and embracing the spiritually healthy.

If I find I’m struggling with tolerating a foul thought, I find it useful to consider what it would be like to confess that thought to my wife or a friend. Sometimes, that’s all it takes. Other times, I actually have to speak the thought out loud. Suddenly then, I’m aware of how bad it stinks.

When we keep our rotten, putrid thoughts secret, we tolerate them. When, however, we drag them before God, family, or trusted friends, we often smell what they smell. We’re always good at judging others, so, we can put that principle to use, using their nose to judge our thoughts. If we find certain thought patterns that stink to others, then we must do what it takes to abandon them.

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