What does the Bible say about positive thinking?
My friend’s father was a Jewish inmate in the Dachau concentration camp and he was telling me on Saturday that his father had to stand in thin clothing in freezing conditions, ankle deep in mud, for hours on end. He witnessed many of his fellow inmates giving up and dying. His father, on the other hand, stood there, imagining he was standing on a Viennese chocolate cake and it was that kind of thinking that kept him looking forward to a positive future.
The idea of filling your mind with good and positive thoughts is entirely Biblical. If you have control of your mind and what comes out of it, you have control of your life and you can shape it howsoever you will. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8 KJV).
Because Paul was able to keep his mind focussed on Jesus and all the good things that come out of a life living with him, he was able to endure unimaginable dramas and terrors: “Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. (2 Cor. 11:25-27 KJV).
Paul lived in joy, despite all of these horrendous events in his life. “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24 KJV).
We have a choice – to either look at our circumstances or to look at Jesus. We can choose to be miserable or joyful. When we look to Jesus we can have joy in all circumstances. “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (Jas. 1:2-4 NLT).