In Proverbs 23:7, the Bible tells us that as we think in our heart, so we shall become. As I was meditating on this verse today, I was remembering a sociological study conducted in the early 1980s which found that when windows are broken in urban neighborhoods and left in their broken condition, the neighborhood conditions will continue to deteriorate. However, if windows are repaired in a prompt fashion, it will minimize the likelihood of other windows being broken and the neighborhoods condition will be less likely to decline as well. This study parallels the revelation of the writer of Proverbs that we have a tendency to allow ourselves to be defined by the problems in our lives, rather than relying upon what God’s word has to say about us. We can allow the broken windows of our lives, ruin the masterpiece that God wants to build within you!
I have noticed that some people can get into a “poverty mentality” when it comes to their finances. Because they have made mistakes and perhaps have allowed themselves to become so overwhelmed with debt that they now allow their errors to define who they are. The problem with this is that it makes it very difficult for people to overcome their situations because they will be likely to continue the same patterns of behavior as their habits have become ingrained into their identity. If you have a poverty mentality you will most likely first become depressed about your situation and feel overwhelmed about your circumstances. Then, as a means of self-survival, you will convince yourself that this your lot in life- settle into your environment- lose a sense of self pride- and ultimately perpetuate the disastrous pattern of behavior in your life. The thinking goes, “Well, if I already have $1000 worth of debt, what is a $1000 more going to do to m?” The initial $1000 of debt can easily become larger and larger if we allow ourselves to become comfortable with the idea of debt. Likewise, if we allow ourselves to become comfortable with the “pig pen” of our lives, we will never have a better life, not because God does not want us to have it, but because we will not be able to do what is necessary to attain it. Ultimately, what you think about yourself will determine what you become.
Utilizing these two examples of urban plight and a poverty mentality, it is easy to see how people allow themselves to get off-course in their lives and settle for less than God’s best. Simply put, we get off course by thinking that our past and present circumstances will direct our future. If you have ever found yourself thinking something along these lines: “Well, there is nothing better out there for me” or “I guess this is the best it is going to be” – then you probably have a spiritually poor mentality. The dangers of this type of mentality cannot be overstated. This type of mentality will have disastrous effects on your self-image, your future, and the future of those around you.
The good news found in the Bible is that our past and present do not have to determine our circumstances; rather, we can allow God to write the story of our future. The Bible tells us in Jeremiah 29:11 that God has a great plan for our lives— a life full of hope and promise! If we want God’s best then there are some steps that we need to be taking:
1. Set your mind on things above, and not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2). When we “set our minds” we recognize that what we choose to think on is our responsibility. We need to start thinking on the good things that God says to us in His word. Paul reflects this in Philippians 4:8 when states, “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.”
2. We also need to let go of our past. We need to learn lessons from the past- but we need to stop living in it. Paul states that there is one thing he does and that is to forget what lies behind and reach toward what lies ahead (Philippians 3:13). We cannot have a great future until we let go of the bad stuff.
3. Don’t settle for anything less than God’s best. Settling is a form of compromise. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, the Devil tempted him by offer Jesus compromises to the Father’s plan. The Devil offered Jesus the easy way out. Because Jesus decided not to compromise, the Bible tells us that God gave Him the name above every other name and exalted Jesus above all powers (Philippians 2). Likewise, if we refuse to settle and compromise, while the path may be hard, God will be faithful in giving us His very best.
Galatians 6 tells us that we reap what we sow. If we want a great a life then we need to sow faithfulness, righteousness, and love. Don’t give up! Give God the pen and allow Him to write the beautiful story of your life. He is always at work doing something good! Isaiah 43:19 states, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”