"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the Lord, "And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT).
We don’t enjoy being wrong. It’s rewarding to know that our thoughts and ideas are well-received, helpful, and correct, but that is not always true. Take forgiveness, for example. Whether we’re asking for forgiveness or needing to forgive someone who has wronged us, sometimes it’s easy to forgive; other times it’s nearly impossible. Our thoughts will not allow us to forgive. They are ineffective, useless, and wrong compared to God’s thoughts.
Since the debacle with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Father God had a plan of forgiveness and reconciliation that our carnal minds could not have formulated. Regarding one who sins and falls out of fellowship with God, He tells us in Isaiah that we should not think the Lord responds to sin and forgiveness as carnal man does. When He says, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, and My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine,” He is referring to the previous verse about sinners (that includes us), which reads, “Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord, that He may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for He will forgive generously" (Isaiah 55:7 NLT).
To forgive generously is a standard God established. From a heavenly standpoint, God’s counsels are high. They are far above ours, especially regarding sin. In Matthew Henry’s Bible Commentary, Henry says, “The wicked are urged to forsake their evil ways and thoughts and to return to God, that is, to bring their ways and thoughts to concur and comply with His, for ‘My thoughts and ways are not as yours. Yours are conversant only about things beneath; they are of the earth earthy: but Mine are above, as the heaven is high above the earth; and, if you would approve yourselves true penitents, yours must be so too, and your affections must be set on things above.’"
The reason it’s difficult to forgive is that we do not fully have the mind of Christ yet. Our thoughts are cluttered with carnality, and our sinful nature sometimes screams louder than the nature of God within us when an offense occurs. Asking the Lord to forgive us when we sin is paramount to living and succeeding in the Christian life. Likewise, we do not get too far with the Lord if we are unwilling or hesitant to forgive others, as God has forgiven us. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).
What about those “higher thoughts” of God? That is a fascinating truth, and “thoughts” means a plan of good advice. Contrast that with the lower thoughts introduced into our hearts and minds by the enemy. Those would be cunning plots of evil to destroy--not build--relationships with those who have offended us. Oh, how tempting it is to build a case against our offenders.
Romans 8:5-8 explains the dilemma we encounter when our carnal, fleshly thoughts dominate God’s thoughts: For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.
God doesn’t think with the limitations of a human mind. When we go astray or sin, He looks at us through His eyes of tremendous love, compassion, and understanding. For the Lord searches all hearts and minds and understands every intent and inclination of the thoughts (1 Chronicles 28:9). Since He knows us better than we know ourselves, it is impossible for Him ever to MISunderstand us. With almost every offense, there is a misunderstanding, but not with God.
Forgiving someone we know and love dearly is easier than forgiving a stranger or enemy. God is love, and as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him (Psalm 103:11). That is why He is so ready and willing to forgive us. That is why His thoughts are higher than ours. They come from love that the world cannot understand—that we cannot understand.
As we grow in the love of God, our ability to forgive increases. Peter thought it was sufficient to forgive someone seven times, but Jesus adjusted his thinking with the “higher thoughts” of God. Matthew 18:21-22 (NASB) describes their conversation: Then Peter came and said to Him [Jesus], “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
Praise be to God, who is quick to extend His amazing love and forgiveness to bring reconciliation to the sinner! We can rest in His love and tender mercy, knowing that His “higher thoughts” forgive us freely, and in an extraordinary display of His forgiveness and grace, not only does He forgive our sin, but He forgets it, as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12).
Higher thoughts, higher ways—what a God!!
© 2023, Chris Werre