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While many times our thoughts, desires, and actions are aligned with each other, this is not always the case.  And while we must always live with our integrity, it’s important to realize these can simply be different experiences as well. 

For instance, being fascinated with mountains doesn’t necessarily express a desire to climb one. And even the desire to climb one doesn’t imply we’re actually making plans to do such. 

Our thoughts, desires, and actions can be related but also distinct experiences. And all too often we assume they’re one in the same. 

This can leave us feeling guilty with many unsolicited thoughts that pass through our mind. Many times a passing thought is just that – a passing thought that’s not revealing some deep and hidden desire of our heart. And even when we enjoy thinking about certain things, this still doesn’t mean we desire the object of our contemplation per se. Beauty affects us but this doesn’t mean we desire to have it as our own. We can simply enjoy it for its own sake

And when it comes to desire, there are things we would like to have and to hold. But part of maturity is also recognizing that just because we want something doesn’t mean we get to have it. Sometimes our desires are unrealistic, or simply just not for us, or, at least, not for us in this season. We don’t have to ignore the desires of our heart even when it’s wise not to act on them. 

Generally speaking, actions represent thoughtful desires put into motion. We’re taking a step to make our thoughts and desires a lived reality. But sometimes our actions are still thoughtless and unintentional. 

To be sure, we need to be mindful of the thoughts and desires we entertain. But our actions come with a greater weight of responsibility. There’s a difference between a passing thought of sin, and even a temptation, versus actually engaging in sin. 

In the end, thoughts, desires, and actions are not the same. Discover greater freedom by learning the difference. 

Photo by Chander Mohan on Unsplash

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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