Beware Brooding

Jesus admonished his disciples to beware the “leaven of the Pharisees”—but also considered the Herodians to be a threat to his disciples (Mark 8:15).

The Herodians were fair-weather friends with the Pharisees, but set aside their differences to brainstorm ways to catch Jesus in an offense worthy of execution.

The Herodians differed from the Pharisees in that they held to the doctrines of the Sadducees. Deistic in their beliefs, they acknowledged a higher power, but claimed no personal relationship with God, and accepted no spiritual revelation.

A Herodian believed that the Messiah could only come from the dynasty of Herod the Great. The Herodians accepted the present ruler of Galilee, Herod Antipas, as their savior whom they believed would influence the Romans to protect the interests of the Jews. They plotted to kill Jesus because he jeopardized their attempt to create a messianic aura around Herod Antipas.

Today, we are well-acquainted with modern-day Pharisees (religious and secular). They lack compassion, judge people without spiritual discernment, and exude an attitude of condescension. A Pharisee complicates simple Biblical Truth until it is unrecognizable.

But Jesus also warns disciples (us) to guard our hearts from the leaven (philosophy and attitudes) of Herod as well as Pharisees—and here is where Judas Iscariot should have taken notes. Jesus wasn’t worried that his disciples might collude with the Roman government, the usual practice of the Herodians. Implicit in his admonition, Jesus warns us to avoid brooding over the politics. A Herodian ate, slept and breathed political intrigue…

Barren and Brooding…

Judas allowed this brand of leaven to knead deeply into his soul. He brooded over unfulfilled expectations—of Jesus. Brooding turned to an uncontrollable obsession. Obsession drove him to the irrational act of betraying Jesus, and ended in suicide.

 Modern day Herodian leaven can overwhelm our hearts as well. If we brood over the decay of values and traditions day and night, our unfulfilled yearning for visible changes can affect seasons of our lives. Brooding feeds the part of the human psyche that feels offended when we don’t get our way. Unchecked brooding grows into obsession, and obsession ruins our “peace that transcends all understanding.”

So, what do we do with the brooding thoughts incubating in our minds? How do we stop them from hatching into voracious obsessions?

Our antidote to brooding is thanksgiving.

Giving thanks to God (and meaning it) is not easy at first, because brooding is natural. But by offering the sacrifice of thanksgiving every single time a brooding thought occurs, we sweep the leaven from our consciousness before it takes control.  

Being thankful agrees with reality: God commands ALL the circumstances in our personal lives, community and nation. Brooding and thanksgiving cannot live in the same heart. Thanksgiving is our invisible and indivisible (too strong to shatter) weapon against brooding and obsession.

Thanksgiving marches around Jericho when there is no rational reason for us to think that the walls will fall—except that we believe God’s word. And the walls DO fall. Why wait to thank God AFTER the fact? Why not thank him in advance?

Thanksgiving is the fulcrum upon which faith will move our mountains.

We can conjure up a long list of things NOT to be thankful for. But how long is our list showing-off past victories, rescue from harm, intervals of tranquility, love from family and friends, needs and wants being supplied…?

Which list do we peg to the refrigerator door (our minds) for constant reference?

God gives us the responsibility to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (II Cor. 10:5 KJV),” for the sake of our mental health and to encourage others in their faith.  

When you wrestle with brooding thoughts, bury them in thanksgiving to God. The weight of God’s grace will squeeze them out of your brain!


Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident)

When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. Gilbert K. Chesterton (Writer, philosopher)

I give all the glory to God. It’s kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to Him and the blessings fall down on me. Gabby Douglas (Olympic Gold Medalist)

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others. (Marcus Tullius Cicero Roman philosopher, statesman 106-43 B.C.)


Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (I Thes. 5:18)

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. (Psa. 100:4)

(This last verse begins a passage that explains where unchecked brooding thoughts can lead…)

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:21)


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