The human mind is a powerful and dangerous thing. One of the most fascinating things about it is that our thoughts and emotions can overpower our perceptions. In other words, we often see and hear what we’ve been thinking about…even if it’s not really there.
Have you ever been angry about something? I mean, like really heated? Because of where you were mentally at that moment, everything that was said to you seemed to take on a different tone. Your friend didn’t mean any harm by what she mentioned, but you took offense because you were already offended. You perceived hostility where there was none because your heart was influencing your hearing.
Wait…Was That Always There?!?
This perceptual warping usually happens to me when I watch a scary movie. Because I’ve been mentally marinating in terror for the last two hours, my thoughts start to influence my vision and hearing. Familiar things that I see and hear every day in my own home, I now see and hear very differently. Instead of the shadow cast by the coat rack, now I see the shadow of a looming ax murderer waiting for me to step into the room! Instead of the sound of the refrigerator humming to life, now I hear a monster breathing in hungry anticipation of its next meal!
And it happens in spite of my rational mind. Logically, I know there’s no one in the closet, but…something made that sound.
That’s why mindset matters so much. One reason we’re told to guard our hearts so diligently (Proverbs 4:23) is because whatever takes over on the inside, eventually takes over how we process what’s happening on the outside. And one thing we have to be especially vigilant about is fear.
Do You See What I See?
I love the episode with the prophet Elisha and his servant in 2 Kings 6. After becoming a thorn in the Syrian king’s side, Elisha was made public enemy #1. The king’s forces tracked him down and surrounded the city where he was staying. When he saw the army with their horses and chariots in the morning, Elisha’s servant panicked. He said, “Oh no! What are we going to do!?!”
The first thing Elisha said in response was, “Don’t be afraid.”
Then the prophet asked to Lord to open his servant’s eyes. What he saw was a heavenly army surrounding the human army that had them surrounded!
I think it’s deeply significant that the servant’s vision problem was directly connected to his state of mind. The enemy was already defeated, but his spiritual disposition kept him from visualizing the victory.
A spirit of fear will have you magnifying minuscule things.
Problems look way bigger than they actually are when fear is in control. Then we start to react to those challenges in a way that’s out of proportion. We run when there’s no reason to run. We hide and we cower when, in reality, the smallest push would topple the “giants” we’ve inflated in our minds.
A spirit of fear will have you envisioning all the worst possibilities.
If you don’t monitor your mindset, you’ll start to only see the worst-case scenario in every situation. Then, negative choices will flow from those flawed perceptions, one of which is to quit before you’ve even started. Fear is your mind tricking you into not even trying.
A spirit of fear will make you blind to the moving of God.
The most tragic outcome of living in fear is being unable to see what the Lord is doing to set you up for the win! He’s always busy. He’s working everything out for your good. And He’s got your enemies right where He wants them. But you’ll miss the miracles if every move the adversary makes puts you into panic mode.
Paul reminds us that the spirit of fear doesn’t come from God (2 Timothy 1:7). That’s why you have to watch what you’re watching and listen to who you’re listening to. There are a lot of ungodly influences fighting for your heart. If you give the wrong one an audience, it’ll mold your mindset in its image and have you in a spiritual space God never intended for you to be in.
What God does give is a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. A lot could be written about that verse, but I’ll just focus on the “sound mind” for now. It has to do with being sober and clear-headed. It’s right thinking that isn’t clouded by extremes of emotion. It’s faith over feelings, faith in a faithful God’s unfaltering word.
When your mind is renewed, your sight is restored. You can clearly see that no adversary is stronger than your Ally…that no weapon that’s conceived or created will work against you…that no demonic threat can ever overpower a divine promise!
When you clear your head, you clear your eyes.
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