You’ve heard of the popular phrase, “Preach the gospel, use words when necessary.” This is an axiom that is simply . . . false. I surely understand the sentiment—we should practice what we preach! However, it falls woefully short of the goal. Your deeds can’t save anybody. We must preach the gospel—with words! Though we know somebody seeing our works won’t save them, somebody seeing our bad works will certainly turn them off even more to the gospel. Your deeds can’t save anybody but they can damper your witness.
We wouldn’t want to admit it, but we as humans are controlled by myriad of things. Whether it be social media, money, food, sex, popularity, etc., our hearts are prone to be controlled by something. Or as the popular hymn puts it: “our hearts are prone to wander.” Matter of fact, our hearts were wired to be controlled by something—they are just being controlled by the wrong things as a result of sin.
Christian, here’s a question I have for you (and for myself): Does the love of Christ control you? Christians will struggle daily with being controlled by other things—this is why it’s wise to repent daily and strive for holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14)—but is Christ’s love for you the foundation of all you do?
In this post, I seek to discuss three ways in which the love of Christ should control us: our thoughts, words, and deeds. Explore with me.
Humans cannot read other humans’ minds. If one claims to, they are lying. So we have the luxury of thinking of something without another person knowing it. However, this is not so with God, who created our minds. God doesn’t simply know what we say—He also knows what we think (Psalms 139:1-2; Psalm 94:11). We cannot hide anything from God. So the next time you’re thinking of something sinful, remember: God sees it. Sin doesn’t start with speech or action, but with thought.
Imagine that we were all in a crowded theater and the screen came on. It looked to be something like the beginning of a Star Wars movie where there’s simply text and it’s scrolling down. The more you read it, the more you notice it’s literally the thoughts going on in your head. How horrified would you be if people were able to see your thoughts? God sees them.
We are rightly horrified because, many times, we do not let the love of Christ control our thoughts. In other words, we are not doing well at taking every thought captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Even intrusive thoughts (which come spontaneously and are not necessarily sinful) need to be taken captive if we entertain them. God knows the human mind so He surely understands we don’t necessarily want all the intrusive thoughts in our head. But they still need taken captive.
Are your thoughts controlled by the love of Christ?
Your thoughts give rise to your words or speech. We know that words can build up or destroy (Proverbs 18:21). We know they can encourage or criticize. We know they can spew God-honoring truth or God-hating deceit. Words matter.
We have to understand that the words we speak give evidence to the spiritual maturity of our hearts. Are we habitually using words that are profane, unhelpful, and ungracious? Maybe we need to see where we are spiritually. If we are using speech that does not honor God, we can be certain that we are not letting the love of Christ control our words. In that case, we are letting our own sin control us.