BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you.’ And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, ‘Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’ – He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’ Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!’” (Mark 2:3-12 NKJV).
There are two kinds of people in the scripture above: those who engaged in productive thinking and those who engaged in unproductive thinking.
The people in the first category were the friends of the paralytic. Against all obstacles, they thought of a way out to get their paralytic friend to where Jesus was preaching, for the man to get his healing. When they got to the place, the crowd was a problem. They could have gone back home, giving the crowd as an excuse. They could have thought of waiting for a time when they would get easy access to Jesus. That means the man’s healing would have been postponed.
However, they were productive thinkers. They thought of a creative solution to the problem at hand. They created a hole through the roof to lower down the bed their friend was lying on while Jesus was ministering to the people. They had a goal to achieve and they did not care what it would cost them. Their friend must be healed first; they could fix the roof later. That was thinking out of the box.
Expectedly, they created a scene through their novel action. Certainly, there was an interruption of Jesus’ ministration. They succeeded in securing Jesus’ attention. Jesus took notice of their faith and the result was the healing of the paralytic. These productive thinkers proved right the maxim that where there is a will, there is a way.
Those in the second category of thinkers in that scripture, the unproductive thinkers, were the scribes. This has to do with their reaction when Jesus said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” The Bible says, “And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’” Can you imagine! Somebody was about to be healed, somebody was about to walk out of his sick bed, and all the scribes could do was to be engaging in a warped intellectual theological debate!
In the time of Jesus, the scribes were the public teachers of the people. Instead of rejoicing that the paralytic was going to be healed, they were accusing Jesus of engaging in blasphemy.
Jesus knew and later queried their thought, with regard to the healing of the paralytic. To prove to them that the Son of Man (Jesus) had power on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralytic, “…arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately the man arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of everybody including the unproductive thinkers. And the Bible says, “All were amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!’” Did you see that? I am not sure the unproductive thinkers would have participated in that praise galore! They must have grumbled out of the place.
It was unproductive thinking for some Pharisees to have argued that the hungry disciples of Jesus breaking off heads of wheat and eating the grain on the Sabbath were acting against the law to work by harvesting grain on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-2). Which law forbids a hungry man from finding what to eat? Of course, Jesus corrected their warped doctrine. “For I, the Son of Man, am master even of the Sabbath” (verse 8 NLT). The same account is in Mark 2:23-28 and Luke 6:1-5.
Jesus corrected their faulty thinking again, later in the same chapter in their synagogue. With regard to the man with the withered hand, they asked Jesus if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:10). Can you imagine that kind of question from supposed religious leaders! Jesus answered them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. Then He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other” (verses 11-13 NKJV). The Bible immediately adds that the Pharisees called a meeting and discussed plans for killing Jesus. What a wicked sect they were!
These Pharisees could not heal and wanted to hinder the person who was healing the sick and performing diverse miracles. “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38 NKJV). Why should a religious leader try to blackmail someone who is doing good on the Sabbath? Was there any better day to heal than on the Sabbath, a day for rest and worship of God?
Can you imagine that after Jesus healed that man at the Pool of Bethesda who had been sick for 38 years, the only thing the Jews could say to the man was, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed” (John 5:9-10 NKJV). Just imagine! Their unproductive thinking had made them lose every sense of compassion; they were simply callous. Instead of rejoicing with the man, they were hypocritically defending the Sabbath. Were they saying they were pleased with the man’s pitiable condition for 38 years?
What are you using your mind for?
God has given every human being a mind to think. However, each person determines what he uses it for. There are both productive thinkers and unproductive thinkers today. What are you using your mind for? How are you thinking? And what are you thinking? Are you thinking like Jesus or like the four friends of the paralytic who, against all odds, got their friend healed? Or are you thinking like the religious leaders in the days of Jesus?
Without productive thinking, the four friends of the paralytic could not have overcome the unfavorable circumstances they found themselves and their friends would, probably, have died on the sick bed not able to access healing that was readily available in Jesus Christ,
You do not have to surrender to unfavorable circumstances. Engage your mind in productive thinking with the help of the Holy Spirit. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (NKJV).
The natural human mind has produced and is still capable of devising solutions to seemingly, intractable human problems. That is why we have many inventions. That means the mind of a born-again person who has access to the help of the Holy Spirit should be able to achieve even much more, greater things. God has given every believer a sound mind. We only need to activate it. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV).
It is, however, unfortunate that the minds of men – believers and non-believers – instead of being developed and maximized, are being turned into dung hill for junks – pleasures, entertainment, unedifying music, and the like. Instead of sitting down to engage their minds in rigorous thinking with the help of the Holy Spirit to proffer solutions to personal problems, life’s problems, societal challenges, etc. people are feeding their minds with junk. You cannot do that and be a productive thinker. Yet, there are many situations confronting people today that the solution is not in prayer, and that is not to minimize or trivialize prayer. What some problems require is for one to think through and they will be solved.
Learning from Zacchaeus, the productive thinker
Think about Zacchaeus, the tax collector. Zacchaeus thought of a solution to the problem facing him. He was a short man who wanted to see Jesus, but the crowd would have trampled on him. He laid aside his status in society and thought of the best solution to the problem. “Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’ So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully” (Luke 19:1-6 NKJV). Did you see productive thinking in action?
Zacchaeus did not make excuses. He did not give up. He did not procrastinate. He made up his mind to see Jesus that day and came up with a good idea, a sure-fire idea, how to achieve that goal. And he did not break any law to achieve it. He did not commit any crime.
Instead of complaining or making excuses think of anything that does not violate the word of God, something that does not amount to sin, something legitimate, something permissible in law, and something that is not injurious to your well-being and that of others. Engage in productive thinking with the help of the Holy Spirit!
Do not join those who are deploying the power of their minds negatively – those who are negatively creative. Those criminals you see could have channeled the energies of their minds into productive thinking, not destructive thinking.
Back to the story of Zacchaeus – Jesus took notice of him, appreciated his effort, and became his guest that day. He made haste, came down, and received Jesus joyfully. What was the reaction of the unproductive thinkers to this incident? “But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, ‘He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner’” (Luke 19:7 NKJV). Did you see that?
God gave you your mind to think, seek the help of the Holy Spirit in your thought. Do not engage your mind in unproductive thinking.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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