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“What do you think?  There was a man who had two sons,” Jesus asked those who questioned His authority.  And again He asked Simon, What do you think, Simon?  From whom do kings of the Earth collect duty and taxes—from their own sons or from others?”  And in Luke, He asked the teachers of the law, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?”  For Luke wrote:  Jesus knew what they were thinking. 

All imagination comes from thinking and all innovations come from imagination, so is it not logical that to begin to learn to innovate, you have to learn to imagine, but before you can imagine, you must learn to think.  Sounds obvious and it is.  However, many do not realise that even as the Lord is watching what you are doing and listening to what you are saying, He already knows what you are thinking, and it is in the light of what you are thinking that He judges what you are saying and doing. 

If you understand this, you might finally understand why so many will say to Him, “‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name, and in Your Name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’” and yet will be rejected by Him who will say to them, “I never knew you.  Away from Me, you evildoers!”  You see, these ones claim to have said the right things, prophesied in His Name and done the right things.  But they did not realise the Lord was reading their thoughts, and what they were thinking betrayed them, making what they were saying and doing qualify them to be evildoers. 

So, when would what you think qualify you to be an evildoer, even though you are saying and doing what appears to be right?  When what you have in mind are the things of men and not of God just like Peter had when he rebuked Jesus and Jesus said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to Me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

Joshua was commanded, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it,” so that he would think about what he had said before doing what he said.  So likewise, we who have the written scriptures like Joshua had the written law, should think about what we have said before we do what we have said, as well as think about what we are reading so that we do what we have read.  In the first place, thinking about what you have said will allow you to weigh the gravity of your words so that if you have spoken or asked amiss, you can repent.  If you have blurted out a promise or a vow, you can plead to have it rescinded as you humble yourself.  And to think about what you have said is to begin to count the cost of your words, which will either acquit you or condemn you.  The person who does what he has said is not a hypocrite.  That is why having said it and meditated on it, the Lord said to Joshua, “Be careful to do everything written in it.”

Peter spoke without thinking when asked by the collectors of the two-drachma tax, “Doesn’t your Teacher pay the temple tax?”  “Yes, He does,” he replied.  Had he ever seen Jesus pay the tax or did he just reflexly say it because it sounded good?  Prior to Matthew 17, and indeed, nowhere in the whole gospels is it ever recorded that Jesus paid the tax.  For there is no temple tax in the Law or the Prophets, and Jesus came to fulfil those only.  The two-drachma temple tax was a man-made rule.  A better reply would have been, “I don’t know—but let me pay it for Him anyway.”  You see, Jesus didn’t ask Peter, “What are you saying?” or “What are you doing?”  Rather, He asked, “What do you think…?”

The chief priest and elders of Matthew 21:23, when Jesus entered the temple courts, were not thinking the way tax collectors and prostitutes were thinking in answer to the Parable of the Two Sons, so they answered, “The first,” because they never thought about what the father wanted.  Jesus had asked them this question, “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”  It is obvious to us with hindsight and careful consideration that neither of them did what the father wanted.  However, if you are a son who is used to doing what the father wants, you would be able to see immediately that neither did what the father wanted.  This is the innate dysfunction within all men that prevents us from doing what we ought to do and not do what we ought not to do, so that the Law of Sin at work in the members of our flesh can wage war against the Law of our Mind, making us prisoners of the Law of Sin.  You see, if the Law of our Mind was always to do what our Father wanted us to do, then there would be no opportunity for the Law of Sin to wage a war.  For a war is only waged when one side is not overwhelmingly superior, and when one side is overwhelmingly superior, there is no war.  It is only a massacre, and nothing survives a massacre.  So, if the Law of our Mind was a slave to God’s Law as Paul put it:  So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s Law, then the Law of Sin at work in the members of our flesh would be massacred and wiped out.  Being wiped out, there is no war, only peace.  A son whose mind is set on doing what the Father wants can at all times see immediately the answer to Jesus’ question:  “Which of the two did what the father wanted?”

So then, it is not what we say or what we do that endears us to God—it is what we think.  Peter appeared to be saying the right thing as he rebuked Jesus for saying He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life when Peter took Him aside.  It looked right and sounded right.  He didn’t do it in front of the whole assembly.  He was, if you like, putting into practice an earlier teaching of Jesus, “Therefore, if … your brother has something against you … go and be reconciled to your brother,” and from Proverbs: rebuke a wise man and he will love you.  But you see, what he had in mind was not what God had in mind.  Peter did not endear himself to Jesus as the Proverb suggested, but instead copped a rebuke of rebukes, “Get behind Me, Satan!” 

Now, just for one moment, imagine (there’s the word) that you are Peter.  You are His disciple, you love Jesus, you think He is the greatest of all, you’d eat His flesh and drink His blood just because He said so, and now you are rebuking Him for His foolish thinking and He turns around and calls you, yes, you, “Satan!”  Not a sinner, not a fool, not an idiot, but the name of the archenemy himself, Satan!  What would have gone through your mind?  What would have stopped you from throwing up your hands and walking off, for many a man would have walked off for much less an insult.  But Peter to his credit did not walk off, did not rebuff Jesus for the insult, but remained.  You may think amiss, and you will so that what you say and do may get you nothing more from the Lord than these words:  “Get behind Me, Satan!”  But if you learn to be obedient like Peter, you will have much in your favour.

Did you see it?  Have you noticed?  Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan!”  Jesus actually was putting Peter behind Him, Jesus still trusted Peter to have Peter stand behind Him.  Compare these words with the ones He said to the real Satan, “Away from Me, Satan!”  Jesus wanted nothing to do with the real Satan, but Peter who became Satan by not having in mind the things of God was put in a place of trust and to follow Him.  So, what am I saying?  Merely this:  Remember the grace of God is always sufficient for us, and in our weaknesses His power and strength is made perfect is us.

And we often think that our weaknesses are our sins, our temptations, desires, words and actions, when in truth it is how we think that is our greatest weakness.

Religion teaches you what to say and what to do without allowing you the freedom to think, for the greatest threat to the authority of men is a free thinker.  That is why in all repressive governments, it is always the intellectuals who are persecuted, including within the church.  The way men control men is to make them do and say what they want them to say and do without letting them think differently from them.  Thus, all dissensions and disagreements are completely quashed.

On the contrary, the Lord has demonstrated again and again that He has the grace and the patience to put up with free thought that goes contrary to His.  When the Israelites refused to let God speak directly to them, He said to Moses, “I have heard what this people said to you.  Everything they said was good.”  And the very fact Jesus asked this question many times to disciples and opposers alike, “What do you think?” means that Jesus wants us to think for ourselves freely and be able to express our thought through speech and word.  It is not the will of God to squash free thoughts from men, but rather it is His will to perfect the thoughts of men so that they may be perfect as He is Perfect, for after all, man is created in the Image and Likeness of God.  Therefore it is His will that not only should men speak and act as God does, but to think like God thinks.

It is the careful consideration of what you have heard and the careful performance of what you are told to do that you begin to see what the thought behind the word and the action is.  No one can know what God is thinking unless they are listening with careful consideration and detailed practice of His word to see the intended result.  It is only then that the thought and the intent of the thought can be known.  If you will not listen and not do, you will never know what the person is thinking, and why should God reveal His thoughts to those who will not listen and obey?  Yet Amos wrote:  He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals His thoughts to man, even though His thoughts are higher than ours as the Heavens are above the Earth.  If then we are to know the thoughts of God, we must listen and practise His words with the purpose of seeing their loftiest meaning and purpose and not their ordinary.

So, “What do you think?”  Did God tell you to listen to His Son to waste your time?  Did Jesus tell you to practise His words to make you look like a fool?  Did He tell you to listen and practise so that you would stop thinking, or did He do so to inspire your thinking to high places and purposes until you have a mind that can understand the Mind of Christ who is God?  THINK!

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