Stinkin' Thinkin'

Years ago Norman Vincent Peale was walking through the twisted streets of Hong Kong when he happened by a tattoo studio. He glanced in the window. If one was willing to sit long enough, he could have an anchor, a flag, a mermaid, or any number of emblems inscribed on his arm or chest. But what really caught his attention that day were three words: “Born to lose.”

Dr. Peale was astonished. He entered the shop and pointed to the words. “Does anyone really have that terrible phrase, born to lose, tattooed on his body?” he asked the Chinese tattoo artist. “Yes, sometimes,” the man replied.  Peale was incredulous, “But I just can’t believe that anyone in his right mind would do that.”  The man in the tattoo parlor simply tapped his forehead and said in broken English,

“Before tattoo on body, tattoo on mind.”1

Are you wearing a tattoo? I’m not referring to ink etched on flesh, but markings on the mind, phrases that stain your thinking:

  • “You’re no good!”
  • "It’s all your fault!"
  • "You’re nothing!"
  • "God doesn't care about you!"
  • "God is angry with you!"
  • "You are too far gone!"

The apostle Paul understood the stranglehold of stinkin' thinkin.' Writing to the believers in Rome, he said:

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT

God says, "You've got to get rid of stinkin' thinkin'! Read the following list slowly. This is the truth that washes away unwanted tattoos.2

  • We say, "I'm not able.” God says, “You are able.” Philippians 4:13
  • We say, “I can't forgive myself."  God says, “I forgive you.” I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1
  • We say, “I can’t manage."  God says, “I will supply all your needs.” Philippians 4:19
  • We say, “I’m afraid.”  God says, “I have not given you a spirit of fear.” 2 Timothy 1:7
  • We say, “I'm not smart enough."  God says, “I'll give you wisdom.” I Corinthians 1:30
  • We say, "I'm worried and frustrated." God says, “Cast all your cares on me.” I Peter 5:7
  • We say, “I’m all alone."  God says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

In the book, Spiritual Depression, D. Martin Lloyd Jones draws a lesson from David's own battle with stinkin' thinkin' in Psalm 42. Jones' summary admonition is important for all of us who want to renew our minds:

I suggest that the main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self....Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? 3

The key to stamp out stinkin' thinkin' is to renew your mind with the truth of God's Word.

What " tattoo" is messing with your mind? Replace that stinkin' thinkin' with the truth of God. Write out the verse that addresses your challenge. Put it where you can see it. Review it often.

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1 Norman Vincent Peale, Power of the Plus Factor, Random House, 1996. Pages 58-59.
2 I am indebted to
Edwin Beasley for this list.
3 D. Martin Lloyd Jones, Spiritual Depression