Break Free from Toxic Thinking

Date: February 8, 2024

The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. 1 Corinthians 8:2


Have you ever asked yourself, “What causes a criminal to think as he or she does?” What makes a person think a crooked line is straight and a straight line is crooked? Believe it or not, it is not uncommon for criminals to actually believe they are doing society a great favor by embezzling large sums of money from a corporation account.  And, yes, suicide bombers undoubtedly believe that they are doing God a favor by blowing themselves up along with as many as possible considered to be enemies or infidels.

Toxic thinking, I used to joke, happens when a person’s brain apparently “goes out his ear for a drink of water and doesn’t come back in time to avert a disaster”. How else explain the deaths of 913 people who drank Kool Aid laced with Cyanide back in the 1970s, led by a cultic figure infamously remembered as Jim Jones, in a mass murder-suicide that was as horrific as anything Hitler ever thought up.

Toxic thinking is a strange aberration from the truth whereby some actually feel that irrationality is right and true. Thus, the perception of truth and reality, not truth or reality themselves, becomes important.

It isn’t only cult figures or people who think the government is spying on them through their water pipes and electric power lines who are infected with toxic thinking. There are vast numbers of people whose thinking is toxic today. Like what? Consider the following:

A person’s thinking is toxic when he abandons absolutes—right or wrong, and says, “Everybody’s doing it, so why shouldn’t I, as well?” Your thinking is toxic when you believe or convince yourself that the end justifies the means. Like, “My parents are pressuring me to stay in college, and unless I make good grades I can’t stay here, so buying the answers to the final exam surely can’t be wrong.”

Your thinking has become toxic when you reason that you deserve better than you are getting, so if you are not given what you think is rightfully yours, you are entitled to take it. Your thinking is also toxic when you think that God owes you more than you get— that you deserve to be exempted from the problems of living in a toxic world—and give up on Him.

A math professor began his lectures by presenting a series of optical illusions to a class, ones that played tricks on your brain. What your eyes saw and what your brain perceived were entirely two different things. Then the professor would take an ordinary ruler and show that how you perceived the drawing wasn’t true.

He used a measurement that was accurate, and that’s how you straighten out fuzzy, toxic thinking as well. So how do you measure truth? How do you know that 12 inches is a precise measurement?

By what do you measure life and truth? How do you know if something is true or merely is the perception of truth? Answering that would take far more time than is allowed to me, but your answer begins with God. It’s about Him—not about you.

For centuries, however, men of all cultures and geographic localities have not only believed there is a God, but that He has revealed Himself through our world, through nature; through the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, who lived and walked among us for 33 years; and through His recorded Word, which we call the Bible.

Resource reading: Philippians 4:8-9