As part of our ‘Wellbeing’ series, Mike Blaber looked at how we can learn to change the tracks of negative thinking by renewing our minds through the glorious truths that are found in the Bible. You can listen to his talk here, or using the embedded player below.
In his message, Mike (with the help of the book, ‘The Happy Christian’ by David Murray) identifies twelve patterns of negative thinking that we can fall in to and highlights the value of the Philippians 4 model in responding to those:
“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)
To help put that into practice, we’ve put together a list of verses for you to use to, in the words of Paul, help “take every thought captive” for Christ, to renew your thinking, speak truth over yourself, and tread new tracks of truths to restore your mind. Each one is linked to the negative ways of thinking that Mike identified, but they’re all useful, so please do feel free to use them, download them, write them out and stick them around the house, or do anything else to help get them into you!
Black and White Thinking
Allowing your thinking to be trapped into extremes.
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”, declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths before you (Proverbs 3:5–6)
Taking a single experience to mean a universal truth.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1)
12 Whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12–13)
Picking out only the negative elements of a particular experience completely disregarding the good.
1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion”, says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:22–24)
Turning a positive experience into a negative one.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23: 6)
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)
Assuming that you know what others are thinking, and allowing that to negatively shape your thinking.
1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar…. You are familiar with all my ways. (Psalm 139:1–2)
7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
Thinking that the worst will happen anyway, so there’s no point in trying.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:26–28)
16 All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains in the sand. When I awake, I am still with you. (Psalm 139:16–18)
Measuring your value and security by how you compare to the person next to you.
12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you…17 But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 10:12–13, 17)
1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1)
Self-imposed pressure to achieve impossible standards. Fear of mistakes. Fear of reputation.
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:21–24)
31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God — 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. (1 Corinthians 10:31–33)
Thinking that when something great happens it must be down to me, when something bad happens it must be my fault.
1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit,if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:1–4)
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17–19)
Always living with your head in the past.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12–14)
18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18–19)
Thinking that the grass is always greener.
15 So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 8:15)
5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”
6 So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5–6)
Reading into every situation the worse possible scenario.
4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:4–6)
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace,expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:4–10)