When we do something really dumb, we usually say, “I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking.” But of course, that’s never true. What we should say is, “I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking enough.”
You see, it’s often our first thoughts–our impulses–that get us into trouble. A bad idea squirts into our brains and we act on it without considering the fallout. That’s why I like to hear somebody say, “On second thought…” Our second thoughts are often our best thoughts.
Recently, I read about a 24-year-old Texas man who broke into a house, stole a TV, and then made a clean getaway. But he was arrested a couple of hours later trying to break back into the same house. When the police asked him why he was trying to break back into the same house on the same night, he said he had forgotten the remote and wanted to go back and get it.*
There’s a guy who desperately needed a second thought!
In Scripture, Peter is an example of an impulsive person. There were several times when he would have benefitted from a second thought. Like when he reprimanded Jesus (Matthew 16:22) or drew his sword and cut off a soldier’s ear (John 18:10).
Nostradamus I’m not, but if you show me an impulsive person who consistently acts on his first thoughts, I will be able to predict with a high degree of accuracy where he’s headed in life. He’ll be headed for financial problems (because he’ll spend money foolishly), relationship problems (because he’ll hurt the people he loves with insensitive words), and emotional problems (because his life will eventually be filled with regrets).
Some people say you should count to 10 before doing something rash. The truth is, you could count to 10, 100, or 1000 and it wouldn’t stop you from doing something foolish. It’s not counting, it’s thinking that keeps us from doing dumb things. Instead of counting to 10, try thinking to 2. Your second thought will often be an improvement over your first.
For further reflection read Proverbs 13:16, 29:20, Luke 14:28-30.
*Leland Gregory, The Stupid Crook Book (Kansas City: Andrews McMeel, 2002), 54