Managing Our Minds: Recognizing What —or— Who Controls Our Thinking
Over the past few months, I’ve heard an increasing number of people making comments about wanting to avoid hearing or watching the news. Then noting how some of the events during the past couple weeks have been so heart–wrenching and extremely overwhelming, we might find ourselves searching for an appropriate blend of being informed about what’s happening in the world around us and also shielding our minds from the stress and strain it causes. I suspect that many would also agree with the idea that our culture has taken us to a point of “information overload.” At times like this, it’s normal and natural to desire a way to step back to rest, relax, and retreat from the hustle and bustle of this fast–paced society.
A couple weeks ago, when Donna was spending a some time with our daughter, Kristin and her husband, Jeremy, I had been doing some reading and decided to watch a television program–a one hour crime drama with a preview that looked relatively tame and entertaining. Actually it had a good story line, with no violence, and it included some interesting character development. This included some interactions between the characters that seemed true–to–life. Previously, I had never seen any other episodes of this program so I wasn’t aware of any of the people involved. By the end of the hour, the criminal case that was highlighted in this episode was solved and it appeared to be a good conclusion. But, in the final scenes of the show, it became obvious that some of the interactions between the characters had a different agenda than I was able to discern from simply watching once. When I recognized that things were moving toward some inappropriate and immoral behavior, I turned the television off. Maybe the cliché stating that “You can run, but you can’t hide!” would relate to what I’m trying to say. Or worded more directly, it seems that in our world today, it’s becoming more and more difficult to avoid being influenced by ideas and philosophies that are contrary to our biblical views and values. When I read recent surveys being done by reputable Christian researchers (like Barna) saying that a only small minority of pastors and church leaders in our country (37%) hold to an authentically accurate biblical world view, I find this to be shocking and also logical at the same time.
When I was very young, I learned several songs and choruses that taught me biblical truths or concepts. Recently one of them has been “on my mind” (pun–intended). I imagine many of you might also remember it. “Be careful little eyes what you see. O be careful little eyes what you see. For the Father up above is looking down with love; so be careful little eyes what you see.” Then it goes on with more verses identifying other actions: “ears what you hear; hands what you do; feet where you go; and mouth what you say.” This chorus also brings Romans 12:1–2 to my mind. “Therefore, because of God’s mercies shown to us, I encourage you, brothers and sisters, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, pleasing to God. This is your spiritual worship. And don’t allow yourselves to be controlled or shaped by this world’s system, but instead be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”
—Here are two recommendations based on Romans 12:1–2 that will help us manage our minds in a way that allows God to control our thoughts and thus, avoids being manipulated by our society.
—1} God wants us to present our bodies to Him by paying closer attention to the mercies God has given (shown) to us. We know that God’s amazing grace provides us with something we don’t deserve: Christ’s righteousness! But in a very practical way, it’s God’s mercy that allows us to escape the punishment we deserve. Along with His mercy, He provides us the privilege of escaping the problems that are connected with a lifestyle that’s characterized by sin and rebellion. Christ bought us by paying the price for our sin; He owns us and it’s our responsibility to present our bodies to Him. That’s an important step toward developing the type of thought life God desires us to have.
—2} It’s beneficial to recognize that our minds are controlled by the things we put into them. Warren Wiersbe says it this way, “God transforms our minds and makes us spiritually minded by using His Word.” As we spend time meditating on God’s Word, memorizing it, and making it a part of our memory bank, God will gradually transform our minds to become more able to think about what’s true, what’s honorable, what’s just, what’s pure, what’s lovely, what’s acceptable in His sight. “O, be careful little eyes, what you see! For our Father up above is looking down with love! …”
As always, with prayer for God’s glory and praise for His grace, Pastor Greg