Who of us hasn’t had the experience of saying something we wished we hadn’t said? It’s a universal issue, and it has been for centuries. In the book of James, we read about the difficulty we all have in controlling our tongue. He writes, “We all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way” (James 3:2). He adds in verse 6 that “the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body.”
One of the reasons our words can get us into trouble is that our tongue is often not under the control of our conscious mind. Either you’ve done it, or you’ve seen someone else do it—they cover their mouth just after saying something they wished they hadn’t said. The words just “slipped out.”
So in situations like that, who or what controls our tongue? We can blame it on our subconscious mind! The neuroscientists who study the brain say that 95% of what we do in our lives is controlled by our subconscious mind. For example, remember that time when you drove home, were deeply involved in a great conversation, and suddenly you were home? Your subconscious mind did the driving for you, and did a great job of it as well.
Our subconscious mind is like the hard-drive on your computer. I’m writing this on my computer. I’m choosing the letters, but everything else has been programmed in through my operating system and the program I’ve installed. In the same way, we can say that our subconscious mind has been programmed, probably by the time we were six years old. And what’s been programmed in includes our belief systems and our emotional responses. What’s been “put” into the subconscious is going to come out at some time and in some situation.
So how does a person reprogram their subconscious? That’s what I’ve written about in the book Rethink How You Think. Basically we have to create new pathways in our neuronal system. And to do that, we need access to something that is powerful. I’ve found that when I meditate on God’s word—I hide it in my heart—I’m seeking to change my “programming” to God’s way of thinking and acting. The Psalmist says we are to hide God’s word in our heart so we won’t sin against him (Psalm 119:11). It’s called “discursive meditation,” and it focuses on Scripture. Brain scientists all agree that focused attention is a brain-changer, and this is especially true when the focus in on God’s word.
Question: Have you ever taken the time to read and reread a Scripture passage slowly? Try it and listen to what God has to say through it!
By Dr. David Stoop