A Christian Perspective on Positive Thinking
“Everybody has the ability to do absolutely anything I do and much more beyond. Some of you will and some of you won’t. It will be because you get in your own way, not because the world doesn’t allow you to.” – Warren Buffet, the 2nd richest man in the world, Berkshire Hathaway.
Have you ever heard slogans that sound like: “Master Your Self, Design Your Destiny”, or “Impossible is Nothing”? I bet you have! These two are some catch-phrases that are influenced by the spirit of positive thinking. Positive thinking enthusiasts claim that what we believe affects what we will get or experience. Adam Khoo, Singapore’s most well known motivational speaker and author, once challenged his readers by asking questions: “Did the Wright brothers have more aerodynamic and engineering expertise than all the engineers and inventors of their time? Did Mahatma Gandhi come from a powerful family that enabled him to establish a power base to liberate India from the British?” The answer is no. So, what sets them apart? Khoo then wrote: “Beliefs are what empower seemingly ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things. At the same time, limiting beliefs are what keep most people, despite all their resources, from achieving what they really can.”
So, how would you like to be in control of your life and the results you create? To be in a position of power: to change whatever is not working in your life. To be able to change the people around you, the results you produce and even how you feel.
Does it sound idealistic and too good to be true? Not at all. Most people believe that power and control are limited to a fortunate few who are either born into power, or acquire power through exceptional talent, business acumen, or lady luck. But the fact is, when we give ourselves no option but to succeed, we will always find a way.
If you feel that you never find good opportunities, it could be because of your limiting beliefs and thoughts. If you keep on believing that there are no opportunities around, your mind will tend to delete all the great opportunities, even if they are right there before you. You see what you want to see. At the same time, if you keep thinking negative thoughts, you will, like a magnet, keep attracting everything that is negative to you! So choose to create positive thoughts and empowering beliefs, and the world around you will change!
Now, what are the positive mind and emotional states that guide your every decision and action? In this mortal world, there are two values, ‘means values’ and ‘end values’. End values are emotional states we ultimately want, like happiness, love, power and freedom. Means values are values that lead us to end values. A good example of means values is money. Only when we are driven by these values, we would strive to achieve what we desire to achieve. That is exactly why we need to clearly define our goals or end values. Success rarely happens by chance, it happens by our own designs. The roll of the dice never made anyone rich for long, or happy. It always begins with a clearly defined outcome fueled by a passionate desire.
Now, I need to confess that, indeed, the previous five paragraphs were written purposely in such a way as if I am promoting positive thinking. I am not. It is meant to let you have a genuine feel of the spirit of positive thinking and what it offers. So, what do you think? Are you lured to follow on its path? Or, are you perceiving it as a total evil; something that we need to exorcise?
A Second Look
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” - 1 John 4:1
When they say: “Master your self, design your destiny”, what do they mean? They are actually saying that we have to take full control of our lives, master it (with the “positive” strategies mentioned above) so that we can then chart and decide our own future. In a similar tone, the second slogan: “Impossible is nothing”, they are saying that, as a human, there is nothing we cannot achieve when we desire it. What a powerful conviction! But, what is wrong with that proposition? Is it wrong to want full control over our own lives? Is it wrong to decide our own future to be happy? The answer is: it is not only wrong, but it is also not true.
It is not a new problem though. God had actually taught us the lesson. In the very early time of human history, The Bible tells us a story of God creating the universe and among His creation, He chose to create human to be special. He made human in His image, He put purpose in human’s being (Gen. 1:26-28). Later on, human desires to choose his own future: to live in full control independently from God and for himself. It all started from the basic desire to be like God (Gen. 3:4) which is similar to the purpose God has set for him; to represent God, as His image, to dominate and cultivate the earth. What is wrong with that? The problem is that the human’s understanding of his mission in life was incomplete. Human was created to be special and to dominate the creation so that human could live a happy life? NO! Human was created to be special for God’s glory. And ONLY by truly glorifying God will human attain his fullest sense of purpose and fulfillment. Now that human had chosen his own path apart from God, death lurks in and rule over those who do not have The Salvation.
Therefore, it is clear that ultimately we are meant for God. God is our Creator, Master, and Salvation. Apart from that: sadness, discontentment, suffering, death. We can always choose to live our own way, but it will never be without any consequences. Do not be deceived.
Epilogue: A Third Look
“Brothers, 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, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” - Phil. 3:13-14
Is the spirit of positive thinking a total evil then? The apostle John said that any spirit which does not acknowledge that Jesus is God incarnated as Son of Man is not from God (1 John 4:1-6). Thus, it is straightforward to conclude that the spirit of positive thinking is not from God since it says: “God is dead and human is god”.
Nevertheless, I am compelled to examine Christians’ lives closer and not end the discussion here. In the same way as them, who are confident and serious to achieve their own goals with complete disregard of God’s authority, we, who are pessimistic and frivolous (not serious) to live for God and glorifying God, are transgressing! Yes, we are equally not pleasing God as them! Thus, we need to repent, imploring God for His forgiveness and enablement.
If we love this world more than God (The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit) and focus our efforts to attain the deceiving worldly lusts and ambitions, we have to repent. Learn from Paul who considers all those things as rubbish compared to knowing, gaining, and be found in Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:7-9).
If we have been pessimistic and frivolous Christians, I beckon that we learn from those people who are seriously planning and ardently laboring with confidence to achieve their goals. Like William Carrey (pioneer in world evangelization movement), we, too, need to “expect great things from God” and at the same time “attempts great things for God”. We cannot just hold unto only one aspect of the truth and ignoring the other. If we do so, we are not being true Christians, faithful disciples of Jesus Christ!
Trust God the Almighty; He is our source of confidence and providence. Seek our God-given calling and mission in life (Ps. 139:16, Eph. 2:10). Work out and press on to live according God’s will (cf. John 4:34; 7:4, Phil. 1:20-21). And in the end, may we be able to say: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever!
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1. Bersyukur untuk Kebaktian Pembaruan Iman Nasional II bertemakan “Bertobatlah! Dan Hidup Suci” yang telah diadakan di Bangka dan Belitung pada tanggal 25-28 Juni 2019.