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By Jim Neal
First Southern Baptist Church, Shafter 

Pastor's Corner - May 23, 2019

Habits of the mind become a life

 


“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked;

for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”

Galatians 6:7

Every choice you make has

an end result.

Zig Ziglar

If you were a salesman of any ilk from the latter half of the 20th century or the early part of the 21st century as I was, one became well versed in “Zigisms” like this one. Perhaps Mr. Ziglar’s most popular one was his life’s motto: "You can get everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want." He believed that and spent the better part of his 86 years on earth proving it.

Zig was not the first person who espoused the truth that life is a series of choices. The Biblical truth of seed time and harvest -- “a man will reap what he sows -- although perhaps not the first is one that carries the most weight. This truth is ingrained in the human fiber.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said years ago, “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choices are prepared to choose wisely.” Joshua of old spoke to God’s people and said, “…choose you this day whom you will serve…”; and who could forget Solomon, one purported to be one of the wisest men ever to live, who instructed, “Do not envy the oppressor (the violent), And choose none of his ways…” Even Confucius had a word on this subject when he taught, “If you think (choose) in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of 10 years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.”

Every day, each of us awakens to a new day filled with small, medium and large choices. Some are mundane and ritualistic, often chosen without much thought. Others such as what to eat, whether to exercise and what to wear can have a bearing on how we will “feel” and the energy we will have to carry out our tasks for the day. However, some choices will have ramifications on our lives much further than just the day in which we live, don’t they?

Sometimes seemingly small choices like what we read or listen to might seem insignificant and yet when done over and over forms a pattern that in turn begins to mold and shape who we are to become. Friendships honed over time will influence negatively or positively the shape of the person we become. That is why since time began parents have instructed and inspected who their youngsters are choosing to befriend. It is a truth that we become like those with whom we spend time.

Charles Gibbs became a product of his choices. He was an American pirate, operating in the Caribbean during the early part of the 19th century. He was the last pirate executed in America in 1831. I give you this background only to share with you his last statements when in the courtroom that would issue you his death sentence. Just before the sentencing and perhaps in a way to defend himself, his actions and to swab his conscience a bit, he said, and I paraphrase, “The first time I (chose) pillaged, raped, murdered and sank a ship, I could not sleep that night; my conscience condemned my actions. But by the time I was finally caught I was able to do all those things and then lie down and sleep like a baby in a cradle. My conscience spoke nothing to me of the damages I had done nor the lives I had ruined.”

Now I know (at least I hope I do) that you are not a Charles Gibbs, nor a Bonnie and Clyde type of individual. However, most of us will begin or continue to make choices today that will at their conclusion affect a relationship we are in, a job we are called to do or even a cause we are passionate about. We must always be cognizant concerning what we allow to take up residence in our minds. Being ever mindful that every spiral of life whether up or down begins with a single thought.

When that thought is allowed to germinate, take root and grow through the watering of our emotions it will grow into the plant from which seed it is planted. The growth is a natural phenomenon; the only choice we have is what seeds we allow to be planted. The universal law of “seed time and harvest” then takes over and produces the final product. Want a productive positive live? Then plant positive productive thoughts.

Remember the little Sunday School song we all sung as youngsters: “Be careful little eyes what you see…For your father up above is looking down in love be careful little eyes what you see. Then be careful hands what you do…” and finally “be careful little feet where you go?” Remember? I see that smile and I even hear you humming or singing this jingle. But an additional verse ought to read: “Be careful little mind what you think.”

A thought becomes an action, an action a habit and a habit becomes a life.

[BEGIN ITAL]Jim Neal is pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Shafter.

 

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