A Penny For Your Thought

The old adage “a penny for your thought” dates back to 16th century England when Sir Thomas More wrote “ ‘It often happeth, that the very face sheweth the mind walking a pilgrimage, in such wise that other folk sodainly say to them a peny for your thought.”

Simply translated that means that unexpressed thought can be seen on one’s face and there are some who would pay to know its depth.  The offer of a penny can lead us to think the whole matter of thought carries little value.  But we would be mistaken.  In the days of Thomas More, a penny mattered.

Our world has become a chaotic place where thought has been devalued.  The higher merits of dialogue and reason have been supplanted with emotional appeasement.   Perhaps, in varying measure, that condition has always been a struggle because humanity seems bent on walking in the opposite direction of God.  Even so, through the ages hope counters the state of mankind with the Voice of Truth.  Try as it may, the world has never been able to fully silence it and, for that, we should be exceedingly grateful.

It has long been said that ideas have consequences, yet despite our familiarity with that statement, we ignore the implications.  Underlying this truth is the admonition to consider carefully the ideas we entertain and ultimately embrace, for they matter ~ to ourselves, our families, our communities, our nation and the world.  If you believe that’s an exaggeration, consider the striking differences between nations that respect the life and liberty of its citizens, versus nations that dictate their existence.  The foundation of each was born of an idea and produced either liberty or life ruled by force.

Given that we are one-humanity, how can such conflicting ideas emerge and how do the lesser ideals grip a human heart?  It is found in our identity.  A good friend shared that his dad used to drop him off at school each day with the same parting words. “Remember who you are and whose you are”.  He was a wise father who contributed to the sound identity of his son.

That question is applicable to each of us and wrestling with it ultimately brings us to a crossroads.  Who are we and who do we belong to?  Though we are connected to both mankind and God, only one can have first place and the one we choose will affect the manner in which we relate to the other.  If man is our highest ideal, we choose self.  If God is our center, as revealed through Jesus Christ, we choose truth.  The first embodies error; the second guards life and liberty.

The 10th Psalm gives us insight.  “For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire; he blesses the greedy and renounces the Lord. The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts.” (vs.3-4) 

When God is absent from thought, man interprets life from a singular perspective ~ his own. He becomes the self-appointed authority of the moral, material and spiritual and only those whose interests align with his own are tolerated. Every whim, every philosophy, every pursuit becomes self-serving and the buffer that truth offers between our appetites and our actions is removed.

In the vast storehouses of God’s wisdom and knowledge, we are invited to tap into understanding beyond ourselves.  Psalm 10 declares “Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear.  To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may oppress no more.”   

Ignorance of the Word of God makes us blind to “the man of the earth” – that symbol of godlessness that seeks to promote his agenda and set up his kingdom in place of the Lord’s. In that slow encroachment, we’re complacent until trouble is at our door.  Then wars are fought, lives are sacrificed and nations stand or fall.  But we forget.  Generations have a way of leaving true history in books, or revising it to their satisfaction, and no people can advance unless they honestly know the story of their past.

There is a full blown war raging for the hearts and minds of this generation.  It began years ago with subtle promotions of godless thought. Our apathy has allowed a good deal of evil to take hold and now we must decide.  Who are we and whose are we? Our answer will determine the conditions under which we live.

Thomas More was right.  The countenance of one’s face is a reflection of his thought. What will our expressions reveal and what will be their worth?  Just as coins can lose value, so can thoughts when they are stripped of  truth.  We must decide whose ideas merit allegiance.  The world will demand conformity to its loudest voices. God will whisper truth to every receptive soul.  Those whose earnestly desire the highest revelation of knowledge and wisdom will discover that it is found in God.

No penny required.


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