I want to address an issue that is vital to our journey in this area we call our spiritual walk, and that issue involves the battle of the mind. The bible speaks often of the mind in regards to what we think about and how we think about it, and makes a clear argument that this both effects and defines who we are. Romans 8:6 says “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit, is life and peace.” Romans 12 also tells us to avoid falling into the trap of thinking like the world thinks, but to ..”be transformed by the renewing of our mind.” (our responsibility) Philippians 4 addresses subjects such as, things that are true, noble, right, pure and lovely, and encourages us to…..”thinks on such things.” (our possibility) Proverbs 27 gives us an interesting insight when it tells us “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is,” (our reality) notice it didn’t say as God thinks about so you are, it said as you think about how and who you are, so it is. With this as a backdrop it becomes increasingly clear that we possess minds that need renewing, so let’s explore a few ways that falls within our control that can increase the likelihood of a transformed mind.
One of the transforming agents in this battle for the mind is gratitude, the act of being grateful or giving thanks in all areas of life. I Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Gratitude should be one of the fundamental core values in every Christian life, because it prompts future positive thinking in all areas. In our attempt to incorporate gratitude into all circumstances, it becomes imperative that we acknowledge gratitude not only in the happy, joyful and positive aspects of our experiences, (Psalms 13:6 I will sing the Lord’s praises for He has been good to me), but also in the sad, depressing and negative experiences of life, the Apostle Paul in prison for preaching Christ, acknowledges in Philippians 1 that this is a good thing because it is advancing the gospel and as a result he will “continue to rejoice.”
*Make a gratitude list of the top 5 positive things in your past and express thanks. Do the same thing with a list of the top 5 negative things in your past, and start to transform your mind.
I want to take a couple of psychological/counseling concepts and make some biblical connections that might aid us on this journey of mind transformation. It is interesting that Paul in Romans 12 told us to have a transformed mind, and to work hard to have transformed behavior, what he knew was to have a transformed mind was to increase the likelihood of having transformed behavior. Having said that let’s like at concept #1 which is Cognitive Reframing. The technical definition of Reframing is, “the way of viewing and experiencing events, ideas, concepts and emotions in such a way as to find a much more positive alternative. The idea is that if you chance the context you also change the meaning, and if you change the meaning you also change the corresponding feeling associated with that meaning. The scriptures are full of such examples that can help us grasp the power of this concept.
The first example is found in the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50, Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery due to their jealousy, and the result of the brother’s betrayal was that Joseph ended up in Egypt. It was there that God elevated Joseph into a prominent position and used him to save Egypt from a famine, and eventually that would save the Hebrew nation as well. Here in lies the Reframing piece, In Genesis 50:19 Joseph said to his brothers, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Joseph changed the context and meaning of the brother’s actions from something awful into some good and brought God the Glory. In Isaiah 38, King Hezekiah was informed by God to get his house in order because he was about to get sick and die. Hezekiah launched into a time of great prayers of anguish and desperate pleading with God, resulting in God extending his life by another 15 years. Here is the Reframing piece, in verses 16-17 0f chapter 38 Hezekiah said to God “You restored me to health and let me live. Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish.” Hezekiah changed the context and meaning of a desperate and painful situation and made it a positive event in which God received the glory. Reframing give us an all new definition of what it means to give thanks in all things.
*Remember back to a tough and/or painful time, change the context and meaning in a way that you reframe it into something that God can receive the glory.
There is another psychological/counseling term called “Anchoring”, the premise is that we all possess the ability to access initial or past pieces of information and or experiences to assist in our future judgements, plans and decisions. This anchoring principal finds both validation and encouragement in the pages of scripture, concerning area of faith and direction in our lives. Faith Hebrews 11 is where we find that famous portion of scripture referred to as the Heroes of the Faith Hall of Fame, and it is here in this txt we get a peek at the mechanics of this principal of Anchoring. Prior to chapter 11’s list of all the faith Heroes and the descriptions of their acts of faith, the author of Hebrews said in chapter 10: 32-34 for the recipients of this letter to remember the past days where God showed up in power and might in the middle of their troubles and trials, and delivered them from the trials. In verse 35 0f chapter 10 it says “So do not throw away your confidence of God’s. it will be richly rewarded.” How do you muster up faith for your current trouble or trial, you anchor it to the confidence of God’s past deliverances in your trials past. Direction- Jeremiah 29 finds the surviving elders of Jerusalem in exile in Babylon, and God speaks to their confusion and angst regarding their future and says in 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” When you hit that proverbial dead-end and are unsure of your next right step, that’s when you set your anchor to His promises for you, His very nature of truth, and rest in the fact that He has your best interests in mind.
*Think back to a time where God showed up in your most perilous of times, think of that deliverance and/or answered prayer and realize you too have an anchor that will serve to transform your mind in future trials.
Philippians 2:5 “In your relationships with one another, have the same mind as Christ Jesus.” As we take hold of the challenge to transform our minds, may this be the standard we reach for as the transformation process gets applied.