Happy Monday! I took a break from writing last weekend for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I hope you enjoyed the day reflecting on the life and work of Dr. King.
Let’s talk about our thought lives. What’s on your mind these days?
Here’s what’s on mine: relationships, plans for the future, trying to save money, music... lots and lots of music.
I’ve learned a lot in the past year about the mind and how it works. The more I learned, the more I started to pay attention to what was going on in my own brain. I found some pretty surprising stuff going on up there!
The Bible has a lot to say about the life of the mind. Having spent so much time thinking about what’s been going on in my own head, I decided to take a bit of a trip through the scriptures to discover what they had to say about thinking.
The Biblical reference that started it all for me was Romans 12:2:
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will."
I was stuck on this passage of scripture for a really long time. I wondered “how do I get a renewed mind?” and “what does a renewed mind think about?” I found answers in 2 Corinthians 3:18
"And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are beingtransformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."
If I’m reading this the right way, this verse shows us that an undivided concentration on God's glory opens the door to the Spirit’s work of transformation in our minds and thinking. This scripture also makes it clear that we can’t transform our own minds. The Holy Spirit does the transformation; not us. This is pretty straight forward, right?
Now that we know how to get a renewed mind, let’s go back to the Romans 12:2 piece. The verse says “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is.” This answers the question of what the renewed mind is thinking about. The renewed mind that’s thinking on God’s terms is thinking about God’s will.
So, we can now answer the two questions we started with. But we’ve got one last piece to tackle in Romans 12:2. The verse says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world.” What is the pattern of this world? Answer: self gratification.
It is easy to see how this kind of thinking gets in the way of thinking about God's glory, right? If we are consumed with thoughts about our desires, our issues, our hurt, our pain, or our fears then we’re without that “unveiled face” that the scripture says we need in order to get transformation in our minds. Transformation is interrupted when we cannot see beyond ourselves to recognize the glory of God.
I believe faith is the key to removing this veil of self. Faith takes everything that concerns us and cast those cares on God, ( Psalm 55:22 , I Peter 5:7). Faith trusts Him to include our best interests in His plan. I don't think there's any other way to keep focus on what God is doing and bring Him glory. This may be one of the main reasons why the Bible says "Without faith it is impossible to please Him." - Hebrews 11:6.
Another reason why we have to get beyond ourselves and put trust in Him is this: while thinking and acting with a transformed mind is exhilerating, it isn’t exactly the norm. Thinking about things on God’s terms will sometimes (or a lot of times) lead us to do and say things that go against the grain. People are likely to think we've lost our minds. Check your Bible! People thought Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David and countless others had completely lost it! And in a manner of speaking they had!
So here’s the question... Are you ready to lose your mind? Essentially, that’s what it comes down to. In order to be transformed, we have to be willing to let go of the old self-gratifying brain we’re used to and allow it to replaced by a new one that is focused on God’s glory and His will. One more time. Are you ready to lose yourmind in order to gain His?
Paul had a great answer when folks thought he’d lost his scruples: "If we have lost our mind, it is for God"- 2 Corinthian 5:12a
Here are some questions to help you as you consider the "renewed mind" through this week.
- What do I think about the most?
- What are some of the ways God has most spectacularly manifested His glory in my life?
- How often do I think about those events and others where God has made His glory present to me?
- Do I take notice of God's glory in small ways - the sky, the air, interactions with people?
- What would my life look like if I were to shift attention away from the things I'm currently thinking about the most and think more about God's glory?