Truthful Thinking Is Greater than Positive Thinking

Truthful thoughts are greater than positive thoughts because truth sets us free (John 8:32). Positive thinking is great when immersed in truth. But positive thoughts often get unhinged from reality, causing us to get stuck in cycles of frustration and deception.

Christianity claims that truth exists. Not my truth or your truth, but real, objective truth—a reality that is present whether we believe it or not and functions whether we exist or not.

Because truth exists, our thoughts matter. We must take every thought captive, making it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). We must concern ourselves with things that matter to God, not merely things we believe will make our lives better, easier, or more enjoyable.

I regularly meet people who promote a worldview of positive thinking. In fact, there are religions and schools of thought that major in it. Such belief systems claim, to a greater or lesser degree, that positive thinking saves people from sin, grief, pain, brokenness, and even eternal damnation in hell. They’re attractive because they give us a sense of control. And in an age of chaos, a little control feels comforting.

In troubling times, advocates of positive thinking say things like, “Just think positive thoughts, and things will improve.” The assumption is that our thought patterns determine ultimate reality, not a being who exists and runs the universe regardless of our thoughts.

But can positive thinking actually save us? Can it rescue us from the brokenness of our lives? Can it heal us in a wholistic, soul-level kind of way?

There are at least two reasons why it cannot.

First, to live without truth is to live without healing. Said another way, a life without truth is a life of masking over problems. For example, when I’m anxious and think to myself, “I just need to conjure up a happy thought, and my anxiety will leave,” I’ll miss opportunities to address the source of my anxiety and find a lasting solution.

If I think about rowing a boat on a peaceful stream while my children are distraught and throwing toys at each other, I’ll miss the opportunity to parent wisely and be a person of reconciliation.

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