Mind Readers By The Dozen

I am glad that God did not give me the ability to read people’s thoughts, for if He did, I would feel like I was riding an emotional rollercoaster. One minute, I would feel discouraged and depressed and the next minute, I would feel encouraged and cheerful. Essentially, my emotions would rise and fall as I read and discover people’s thoughts about me.

Thank God I do not have this ability and neither does anyone else. Notwithstanding, some do try to read people’s thoughts. By this, I mean that they are overly concerned about what people are thinking about them or what people must think about them. They typically use phrases such as, “People are probably thinking I’m…” “They must think I’m…” and so on. Well, let me clue you in, people are not necessarily thinking what you think they are thinking.  Most people are so busy with their lives that they do not even remember about you until they see you again. Furthermore, dwelling on what people might be thinking about you is a waste of time, and it only produces undue stress, fear, insecurities, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, doubt, discouragement, depression, negative emotions, and so on. Whew! Aren’t you glad that you cannot read people’s thoughts?

Let’s look at this further through the eyes of 10 spies. Based on God’s instructions, Moses sent 12 spies to the land of Canaan. Their assignment was to explore the land and bring back a report, and this they did. In their report, they spoke first about the fruitfulness of the land. “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey…” (Numbers 13:27, NKJV). Wonderful, right? Well not so fast! Next, the spies reported that there were giants in the land. “But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak!” (Numbers 13:28). Hmmm…giants! Sounds a little scary! Well despite that Caleb, one of the spies was still confident. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” (Numbers 13:30, NKJV). Such confidence! But unfortunately, Caleb was outvoted. “But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So, they spread this bad report among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them, we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!” (Numbers 13:31-33, NLT).

Wait! Did they just say, “Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too?” (Numbers 13:33, NLT). Can someone please tell me how these men knew what the giants thought? I can understand them seeing themselves as grasshoppers, but how did they also come to conclude that the giants thought of them as grasshoppers? They did not even have a conversation with the giants because they were spies. They were operating covertly. At least when Goliath saw David, he told David exactly what he thought of him, but these giants did not speak to these spies at all, so ultimately, the spies made that part of the story up and came to a conclusion about what the giants thought of them based on how they thought about themselves. As a result, the children of Israel cried the entire night and complained about Moses and Aaron. Talk about a state of deep depression and discouragement and all because of how 10 spies viewed themselves and thought others viewed them. Incredible! We can take what we think of ourselves and conclude that others think the same thing about us or are thinking the same thing about us when this may very well not be true. Case in point. I have been told many times, “You must be thinking this and that,” and I have had to say, “No, that is not what I am thinking or that had not even crossed my mind.” I have also been told, “People must be thinking this and that” and I have had to say, “No, people are not thinking this and that. You are thinking this and that. You are making this stuff up. It is in your head. You have not had a conversation with anyone, so how do you know what they must be thinking or are probably thinking about you? You do not know, and you may never know.”

It is natural for us to sometimes wonder what people are thinking about us or must think about us, but clearly, this is not something that God wants us to concern ourselves with or dwell on. Otherwise, he would have given us the ability to read people’s thoughts, but since he has not given us that ability, what we should instead focus on are our thoughts because they can be the reason for how we perceive others’ thoughts toward us. It is no wonder then that Scripture says, “…whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8, NKJV). Lest our negative thoughts deceive us into believing that how we think about ourselves is how others think about us and that in itself is being judgmental.