Does positive thinking have any power?
Positive thinking is a popular self-help concept that can refer either to having an optimistic outlook or to attempting to think certain things into existence. In the latter, the thought is that if you believe something enough, it will happen. This theory has no biblical merit. Man is not capable of creating outcomes through thought. Certainly God performs miracles in response to a believer's prayer (John 14:12-14). Also, a person's expectations about a situation influence his performance and evaluation of the situation. However, our thoughts do not control our worlds; God does. The first definition, having an optimistic outlook, has more biblical validity.
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Throughout the Bible we are given instructions regarding our thought lives. We are told to meditate on God's Word (Psalm 1:2; Psalm 119:148; Joshua 1:8), to think on things that are pleasing to God (Philippians 4:8), to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18), to take our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). We are reminded of God's promises and His faithfulness when we meditate on Scripture. When we think on that which is pleasing to God, we are more likely to experience the fullness of life He gives us (John 10:10; John 15:1-11). Giving thanks in all circumstances results in proclaiming the truth of God's goodness and reminding ourselves of His provision for us (Matthew 6:33). When we take our thoughts captive, we will not believe the lies of the enemy (John 8:44; 1 John 4:1). When we allow God to bathe our minds in truth, we experience transformation.
To the extent that positive thinking means dwelling on the character of God and the redeeming work He performs in our lives, it does have power. When we think about ourselves in terms of our new identities in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21), we are more likely to live as new creations. When we are thankful to God in all circumstances (Ephesians 5:20), we have better perspective and can more easily move past heartache and disappointment. When we think positively in terms of thinking with the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), there is power. The power is not of us or from our thoughts. The power is of God. It comes from believing His truth (John 8:31-32).
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