The heart controls the mind

Imagine that two dogs were about to fight in a cage. Which dog would you expect to win? The answer is simple: the winner will be the dog that received better food, training, and investment.

Similarly, the way to ensure that joy is the strongest influence on your thoughts is to feed the “dog” that produces the joy.

Some people mistakenly think that the most influential factor on your thoughts is what you put in our head, when it’s actually what you put in your heart. It’s your spiritual condition. It’s out of the heart that flow love, hate, murder, and compassion.

Therefore it is the condition of your heart—your relationship with God—that will, more than anything else, determine the thoughts in your mind.

Galatians 5:22-23 says: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Joy is a fruit of the Spirit! Fear, sadness, anger, and disgust (on the other hand) are more associated with the deeds of the flesh and our sinful nature. These two—the Spirit and our flesh—are at war with each other.

Galatians 5:16-18 says: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”

The works of the flesh or the desires of our sinful nature are—as Pastor Miles paraphrased—disgust, a spirit of fear, sadness, always seeing the glass as “half-empty,” having outbursts of anger, or even a negative outlook on the amazing life God intended you to have.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are at war with each other. Every day, fear screams for attention. Anger is fighting to be heard. Thoughts about people and situations in your life are trying to fill your head, while joy is trying to see things from God’s perspective.

Our flesh wants to fill your mind with negativity and fear, while the Spirit of God desires to fill you with the joy of the Lord. The bad news is that the Spirit and the flesh are at war with each other. The good news is that you can decide if joy wins that battle.

It’s as simple as as nurturing and investing in your spiritual life.

How do you do that? By reading the Bible, memorizing it, praying, and worshipping.

Decide today that you will join a small group and surround yourself with people who will encourage you and love you according to God’s word.

Jesus said that if we are faithful in the little things that God has called us to do, we will enter into the joy of the Lord.

Matthew 25:23 says: “‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’”

Feed the “good dog,” and nurture a hunger and thirst for righteousness in your life, and the joy of the Lord will drown out your sadness, fear, disgust, and anger.