Recently, I watched a documentary about the plasticity of the brain. Researchers used to think that after a certain age, the human brain would stop growing and what you got up to that point was all you would ever have. Now, instead of thinking that our brains are immutable machines, they are finding that through exercise and thinking, the brain will grow and adapt according to the input it receives.
They did an experiment which showed that brain growth and activity were exactly the same whether there was any action involved or not. Thinking is as good as acting as far as the brain is concerned.
Once again, we have science confirming God’s Word. The Bible says, “As a person thinks, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7) In other words, it’s what people think on the inside that really makes them the way they are.
What we think of ourselves
The way we think of ourselves in adulthood can be a direct result of what we have been told (we were) as children. For example, if we have been undervalued and abused through the use of negative words, we could tend to think of ourselves as worthless and feel great insecurity throughout our entire life. Unfortunately, many people have been programmed to think that they are failures. This lie paralyzes them from trying anything new. If the cycle is not broken, they will take this distorted view of themselves all the way to the grave, never really understanding their true worth and usefulness. What a sad way to live.
On the other hand, if we have been affirmed and encouraged as children, we will most likely grow up with a confident assurance that will help us reach out to others. Because no limits were put on what we could accomplish, we will not cease to try new things. We will be a blessing to those around us, and our minds will be filled with healthy thoughts. Good actions will follow throughout our lives.
Having a low view of ourselves
There’s a story in the Old Testament about twelve Israelite spies who went to check out the Promised Land. Listen to how ten of the twelve spies described what they saw and what they thought of themselves in light of it.
”So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, ‘The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size.” ”… and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.’” (Numbers 13:32-33)
You see, they allowed their fear of the strength of the others to set a very low view of themselves. People can sense insecurity and inadequacy, and sometimes they’ll take advantage of that. The devil revels in that kind of thing, so he tries to convince us through what we see that we are too small to win the battle that the Lord has called us to fight.
It’s really true that in ourselves—without Jesus—we are nothing (John 15:5), but it’s equally true that when we depend on Jesus for everything, we then have the power to do all things in His strength. (Philippians 4:13)
Thinking too highly of ourselves
The Apostle Paul writes, “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3)
We are not to think too highly of ourselves, as that will inevitably lead to a fall. (Pride goes before a fall….” Proverbs 16:18). While we’re on the subject of pride, we find this statement from Solomon, “Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself?” (Ecclesiastes 7:16)
Thinking of ourselves with sound judgment will clearly keep us out of a bunch of trouble.
What we think to ourselves
“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.” (Philippians 4:8)
If it’s true that the brain continues to grow and make pathways according to what we think, I guess it behooves us then, to think about good things. Or as one of the scientists in the documentary put it, “What that ultimately means is that one needs to be careful about what one thinks.” Amen to that.
So, what do you think?