Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. (Hebrews 4:13 NLT)
In a 1966 episode of the classic sitcom Gilligan’s Island, the titular Gilligan finds seeds that give him the ability to read the minds of his fellow castaways. All of his friends want their own seeds so they, too, can read the minds of their island mates, but nobody can figure out what granted Gilligan this new power. Because he’s kind, and a bit of a pushover, Gilligan soon acquiesces and tells the other six castaways where to find the bush that grows the special seeds. Soon, all of them have their own stash of seeds and can also read minds. Subsequently, it takes less than a day for everything to unravel. They quickly find out exactly what everyone else thinks of them, and they don’t like what they are “hearing.” To prevent further fighting, Gilligan destroys the unique bush, allowing everyone to once again keep their private thoughts private.
While the premise of this episode is absurd, the results are not surprising. We all understand that humans are flawed creatures. Paul writes in Romans that “all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin” (3:9). We know that we think terrible thoughts every day, most of which we don’t act on, but nonetheless we continue to suffer under our own sinful nature that runs counter to the Spirit of God within us. It is a grace that our minds are truly our own and not subject to scrutiny from others.
Yet God knows our very thoughts. “He knows everything—doesn’t he also know what you are doing? The LORD knows people’s thoughts; he knows they are worthless” (Psalm 94:10–11)! He is privy to the darkest corners of our hearts and minds; he knows more than we do about our motivations, fears, flaws, and habits. But the psalmist goes on: “The LORD will not reject his people; he will not abandon his special possession” (94:14).
God’s grace is plentiful, like a wellspring without bottom or a platter of food that never empties. Even though God knows the depravity of our thoughts, he still extends his endless love. “For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17).
This does not give us an excuse to allow our thoughts to run rampant and wild; we are still instructed to hold every thought captive. There is no surefire way to build this skill without paying consistent attention to where our thoughts take us, so, with help from the Holy Spirit, monitor your thoughts today. Slowly build up that muscle so that this becomes more akin to second nature.