Thoughts and Achievement
All that you achieve or don’t achieve, results from your own thoughts. Individual responsibility must be absolute in an ordered universe. Your condition and circumstances are your own and not from others. His suffering and happiness are manifested from within. As he thinks, so he is (Proverbs 23:7) as he continues to think, so he remains.
You can’t help someone, unless they’re willing to be helped. Even after receiving help, the helped man must develop his own strength. He must make the effort to attain the strength and good qualities he sees in another. No one can alter your circumstances for you. You can only do it yourself.
In John, chapter 5:1-9, is recorded the story of a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. He was at a pool by the sheep gate in Jerusalem where many disabled people, used to lie. Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in his condition for a very long time. He asked the man a very powerful question. He asked him, “Do you want to get well?” Jesus was fulfilling this very principle. Jesus truly couldn’t help him, unless he truly wanted to become well. Some people remain in unhealthy conditions because it serves them. They don’t truly want to become well, though they may say they do.
It’s often said, "Many men are slaves because one is an oppressor; let us hate the oppressor." However, there are an increasing number of people who reverse the statement and say, "One man is an oppressor because many are slaves; let us despise the slaves."
Peter addressed enslavement very clearly (2 Peter 2:19). You are a slave to whatever has mastered you in your life. For some it's gluttony. For others, it's greed. Still, for others, it could be lust. It doesn't matter.
The key question for you here is, "what has mastery over you?" Don't say to yourself that you're not a slave to anyone because you are physically free. Consider the Israelites who died in the wilderness and never made it into the land God promised them. They yearned for Egypt where they had food and drink. Though they were physically free, they were slaves in their thinking. One man can be an oppressor because another man allows him to be in his thinking.
The truth is that oppressor and slave are both operate in ignorance. While seeming to afflict each other, are in reality, afflicting themselves. Perfect knowledge perceives the action of law in the weakness of the oppressed and the misapplied power of the oppressor. Perfect compassion embraces both oppressor and oppressed. Jesus has great compassion. This compassion was manifested often during His earthly ministry. His compassion extended to praying for enemies and doing well for them. He left instructions for us regarding both the oppressed and the oppressor. “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). He also went on to say; “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:30-31). So, the “anyone” Jesus talked about, included both the oppressed and the oppressor.
He who has overcome weak and selfish thoughts, is not the oppressed or the oppressor. He is free. Jesus gave the path to freedom for all those who desire it. He said, "if you hold to my teaching" or "if you abide in my Word, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free" (John 8:31-32).
One can only achieve lifting up his thoughts. He can only remain weak, miserable and unsuccessful by refusing to lift up his thoughts. Jesus stated just how powerful thoughts are. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony. These are what make a man unclean” (Matthew 19-20). Thoughts of the Israelites in the wilderness, kept them in slavery to the Egyptians, though they were physically free. A man’s freedom or slavery begins with his thoughts. His image of himself will either conquer him or set him free.
Before you can can achieve anything, you must lift your thoughts above blame, laziness and self-indulgence. If your first thought is self-indulgence, you won’t be able to clearly think or plan, develop your latent talents and gifts. You would fail at anything you attempted. If you haven’t learned to control your thoughts, you won’t be in a position to control your affairs or take on serious responsibilities. You will have been limited by the thoughts you chose.
You need to look no further than life experience to see the truth of this statement. Everyone's actions began first with thoughts. Habits are birthed out of thoughts. Every criminal act began with thoughts. As a result, man is tempted to act out his bestial thoughts. James wrote that "…each one is tempted when by his evil desires, he is dragged away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin" (James 1:14-15) or bestial actions. It's these bestial thoughts that lead to depravity (2 Timothy 3:1-9).
There can be no progress or achievement without sacrifice. Your success will be in direct proportion to the level that you sacrifice your confused lower level thoughts, and fix your mind on the development of your plans, along with strengthening your resolution and self-reliance.
God gave a great promise in Psalm 1. “How blessed is the one who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law, he meditates day and night."
This man is not involved in lower, fleshly thoughts but is focused on the law (word) of the Lord. His focus is on that word continuously. The Psalm goes on to say; "…and in whatever he does prospers" (verse 3). This man prospers as his thoughts and as a result, his actions come from him meditating on God's word.
2 Corinthians 10:3-4 states; "for though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses".
The largest fortress is in our minds. What is in your mind continually becomes a fortress or a stronghold. Remember, whatever you focus on expands. Whether honorable or dishonorable, whatever thoughts you give preference to, will expand and can cause a fortress or stronghold.
So, you are warned in 2 Corinthians 10:5, to take every thought captive to Christ. So, instead of focusing on dishonoring or lower thoughts that will do nothing but hold you back, “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5).
The higher you lift your thoughts, the more upright, and righteous you become. You’ll have greater success, and the more enduring and blessed your achievements will be. There’s no greater confirmation of this than in Psalm 1. The Psalmist begins by saying “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers”.
What he is saying is the way of lower thought is not blessed, as it leads away from spirituality acceptable to God. As one harbors lower, fleshly thoughts, those thoughts expand, then finally lead to destructive actions. In 2 Timothy 3 is listed all kinds of sins that will be prevalent in the last days. These sinful actions come from lower and fleshly thoughts that were focused on and allowed to expand. As a result, their minds became depraved (2 Timothy 3:8).
But greater success comes from not focusing on lower, fleshly thoughts but the Word of the Lord. Should you not only focus on the Word of the Lord but also meditate on it all the time; both day and night (Psalm 1:2).
This man is the one who holds his thoughts captive to Christ (John 8:31-32). The result for this man will be prosperity in all he does (Psalm 1:3). Why? His thoughts are on God, His word and, His commands.
As a result, his relationship with Christ will grow and the fruit of the Spirit will be developed more and more in his life. He will be like Joshua, who was instructed “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Joshua 1:8)
The greedy, the dishonest, and the vicious, are not favored. It may appear at times that they are favored, but favor rests upon the honest, the noble, and virtuous. The Bible bears out the truth of this statement. Though it sometimes appears the greedy are honored and become prosperous, their prosperity is short-lived.
You need to understand in using the word “prosperity” here, is not meant material prosperity only. This can be prosperity in all its forms, in relationships, material, career, mental and physical health. This is what is called in the book of Joshua “good success” (Joshua 1:8 NKJV).
Proverbs says “Greed brings grief to the whole family” (Proverbs 15:27). It then goes on to say “those who bring trouble on their family will inherit the wind” (Proverbs 11:29). What this is saying is the greedy person will eventually end up with little and will bring trouble upon the family, to the point of possibly losing everything. Yet, the “righteous are rescued from trouble” (Proverbs 11:8). This is good success.
All the great teachers have taught this. If one is persistent in raising the level of his or her thoughts, resulting in greater moral excellence, this will have been proven true to that person. God reminds us of this truth. “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable and right, and pure, and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).
Intellectual achievements are the result of your thoughts totally dedicated to the search for knowledge, beauty and truth in life and nature. The search for knowledge involves two parts. The first is staying focused on God. It says in Psalm 25:15, “My eyes are continually toward the Lord”. This needs to be done, He is the source of true knowledge. “…That comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:2-3).
When we receive this wisdom and knowledge, we'll begin to see the beauty of creation. "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and, divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made" (Romans 1:20).
Such achievements may appear to be connected selfish ambition, but they are not the outcome of those characteristics. They are the result of persistent effort and pure and unselfish thoughts.
Spiritual achievements are the result of holy ambitions. He who is constantly birthing lofty thoughts, dwells upon those thoughts that are pure and unselfish, (This is the Philippians 4:8 principle) will, as surely as the sun reaches its zenith and the moon its full, become wise and noble in character and rise into a position of influence and blessedness. These are promises direct from God. “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men” (Proverbs 22:29)
A man or woman will be truly blessed when the focus is upon God. Often the tendency is to focus on outward circumstances, wanting those circumstances to change. But God’s Word reminds us that a man or woman is blessed whose "delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law, he or she meditates day and night" (Psalm 1:2).
Achievement, is the crown of thought and effort. By the aid of resolved self-control, and purity, righteousness, and well-directed thought a man ascends. When fleshliness, laziness, impurity, corruption, and confused thought a man descends. A man may rise to high success in the world, and even to lofty altitudes in the spiritual realm. But, if he allows arrogant, selfish and corrupt thoughts to dominate him again, he will descend once again into weakness and misery.
Victories attained by right thought can only be maintained by watchfulness. ”Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Watchfulness is keeping guard over your heart. This is necessary as demonic voices, your voice and, low-level thoughts all seek to invade your mind. If this is successful, falling back is very possible and likely.
Many give way when success is assured and rapidly fall back into failure. All achievements, whether in the business, intellectual, or spiritual world, are the result of definitely directed thought.
The Philippians 4:8 principle “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things”, are governed by the same law and are of the same method; the only difference lies in the object of attainment.
He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.