Dear Pastor Lawyer,
My question is what do you do with thoughts I didn’t intend? Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: I’m working in the shop, and my mind starts wandering all over the place, and eventually my thoughts start going to inappropriate places for most the afternoon, without trigger. I didn’t intend for this, and being what it is, I confess it as sin. What else should I do?
Thoughtful in Moscow
Ah, the joy of mental drift. One thing leads to another and, Bam! You’re thinking sinful things. One minute you’re thinking about how to get the widget into the whosit. The next, after a few minutes of drift, you’re thinking about doing something sinful. I know the situation well. You’re not alone. Which is why I’m publishing this note.
The key is to stop the drift or if you have drifted, to get back to where you need to be, without serious sin.
One of the fruits of the spirit is self-control, and the greatest commandment is to love God with your whole mind. So, if you can start on the right track from the beginning, you’ll have a more difficult time drifting. This means you have to wake up in the morning, conscious of being in the presence of God, and train yourself to be worshiping him in whatever you put your hand to do. Even what seems to be non-Christian endeavors are really opportunities to give thanks, to be grateful, and to be in prayer about. Hammering nails is a great miracle, for example. Remember how difficult it was to hit a nail when you first started? How hard was it to cut a straight line? Now you do it without even thinking about it. But it is a marvel and very praiseworthy, if you’ll begin to think like that.
Being in the presence of God all the time will make mental drift more difficult.
Now, suppose despite your preparations, you drift off anyway. The first think you should do is to confess your thoughts as sinful. Next, get right back to being in the joyful presence of God. And, ask God to reveal to you when you are being tempted to think thoughts that don’t glorify God. Sometimes the initial drift is not sinful, it is only later, after chasing the theme down the road that they are sinful. Ask God to reveal to you the direction you are headed so that you can stop in time. Doing this quickly and consistently will be the key to keeping from major sin.
Above all, everything should be done with joy and gratefulness to the Lord. Living in the presence and active relationship with God is the key. So rejoice all the time, pray without ceasing, singing psalms, hymns and songs in your heart to the Lord all the time.
I hope this helps. Let me know if you have questions.