The scriptures tell us, “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7), and “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God” (D&C 121:45). Both the Apostle Paul and the prophet Mormon taught that charity, the pure love of Christ, “thinketh no evil.” (See 1 Cor. 13:4–5; Moro. 7:45.) Clearly, we are what we think. And if we think righteous thoughts, we will very likely live righteously.
How do we distinguish between good and evil thoughts? The scriptures offer us a guide: “That which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.” (Moro. 7:13.)
We are the masters of our thoughts. Just as we would cultivate a garden, so should we cultivate our minds, weeding out impure, negative, or sinful thoughts while cultivating righteous ones.
One way we cultivate righteous thoughts is by keeping in mind our purpose in mortality. For example, one woman found that she felt discouraged, particularly when she compared her life with the lives of others who had more wealth and material possessions than she had.
But she decided to control her thoughts, and she made an effort to focus on the kind of person she wanted to become instead of being concerned about the things she did not have. She prayerfully studied the scriptures, concentrating on the Savior’s life and on making her life more like his.
As she did this, she became more sensitive to the needs of those around her. She found that her testimony and her family became more precious to her. She began to admire Christlike character in others more than she had admired worldly wealth. Her new outlook on life helped her feel much happier.
To develop purity of mind, we need to do more than dismiss or avoid evil, negative, or impure thoughts. We also need to learn to think virtuous thoughts. The scriptures guide us in choosing what to think about:
“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report … think on these things.” (Philip. 4:8.)
We can learn to “think on” such things by seeking good surroundings, reading the scriptures and other good books, praying, singing hymns, fasting, observing the Sabbath, selecting uplifting entertainment, wearing modest clothing, developing talents, participating in church and community service, and striving to keep the commandments.
As we learn to think virtuous thoughts, our lives become more virtuous. We will want to live righteously, in thought and in deed. We will be more Christlike.
1. Read Matthew 6:19–21 [Matt. 6:19–21] and discuss heavenly “treasures” we might set our hearts upon.
2. Read D&C 121:45–46 and discuss the blessings that come from virtuous thoughts. How can righteous thoughts and desires increase the spiritual feeling in our homes?
See Family Home Evening Resource Book, pages 15, and 257–259 for related materials.