Discipline of Mind
Yesterday I was helping my 1st grader with his spelling words and his math homework! I was amazed at what his young mind was absorbing and learning both in school and in life. I’m pretty sure he will be a better speller than I am! Our brains are amazing creations from God Almighty. This week’s chapter in Disciplines of a Godly Man speaks to the need to discipline our minds. God has given us the gift of our minds, but do we use it to glorify God or do we waste the input we are putting into it? Reading this was a great opportunity to assess and evaluate what inputs I am letting into my mind. Hughes referenced a principle taught in computer science. GIGO. Garbage In, Garbage Out. This principle is not only true in computer programming, but also with our minds. So what are we putting in?
Hughes begins by reminding us that while the mind is an amazing gift, it is only by the work of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit that we can train it and have the mind of Christ. Two verses are helpful here.
1 Cor 2:16 says, “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”
Roman 12:1-2 also says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
We then have the foundation for disciplining our minds. If we are to transform and discipline our minds, it must be through seeking God and stamping out ways we are conforming to the world.
Think Like a Christian
I am challenged by the quote, “the great scandal of today’s church: Christians without Christian minds, Christians who do not think Christianly.” Many times we are content with just being Christians, putting on the show of praying and worshiping like we think we are supposed to, and we do not think as Christians. Do we have a worldview that reflects Christ and His character, or are we content with floating along in the current of worldly culture blissfully ignorant of the falls just ahead? We need to guard our heart as the wellspring of life meaning guarding carefully the input we put into it.
Choose your Thoughts
Hughes then takes us to Phil 4:8 as instruction for what to put into our mind and what to intentionally dwell on. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ” This verse is a command men. Think about these things. Choose to focus our thoughts on these things. This verse becomes a filter by which we can evaluate virtually every form of input we put into our mind. If we truly obeyed this verse, many things that are part of our normal routine would be gone, completely and utterly gone.
A Shift in Thought
“A Christian mind is impossible without the discipline of refusal.” So what are we to reject? Hughes rephrases the verse in the negative and hits us hard. “Finally, brothers, whatever is untrue, whatever is ignoble, whatever is wrong, whatever is impure, whatever is unlovely, whatever is unadmirable – if there is anything shoddy or unworthy of praise – do not think about these things.” Wow, that should challenge us to go back to the gym and train harder. By way of application, Hughes asks us to consider the input of TV. How much time do we spend watching TV as opposed to distinctively biblical mental training. He says absolutely that it is impossible to have a Christian mind if the bulk of our time is spent watching TV. “A Biblical mental program cannot coexist with worldly programming.” When we begin to see worldly input like TV, movies, and music, as a concerted effort to program us in a worldly way, then we move another step towards healthy discernment.
Program Your Mind
Hughes then gives us two ways to intentionally program our minds and I will add two more. The first and most important is scripture. If we are serious about forming a Christian mind, we will be serious about reading God’s Word. In fact, it is impossible to feed a Christian worldview without consistent time in God’s Word. I whole-heartedly agree with Hughes when he said “You can never have a Christian mind without reading the Scriptures regularly because you cannot be profoundly influenced by that which you do not know.” I appreciate his caution to not treat Bible reading as a legalistic list. If it is just something we check off and read as fast as we can, we lose the power of God’s Word. I would rather men take their time and truly ingest a paragraph rather than read and miss several chapters.
I love Hughes’ reference to Peanuts. “As Lucy told Charlie Brown: ‘I just completed a course in speed reading and last night I read War and Peace in one hour! . . . It was about Russia.’” Men, God’s Word is not a task to be accomplished, but fuel to transform our minds. Appreciate it. Chew it. Know it. If you are looking for a reading plan to read through or listen through, check out the rooted reading plan a number are going through at Village.
Read, Read, and Read
The second input that Hughes recommends is to be reading Christian literature. In this way we can reap the benefit from the study and lives of godly men and women that have gone before us. God has been at work in people’s lives since the beginning of time. May we not neglect what He has done or what has been learned before us. The fact that you are reading this post on this website is exactly what we are talking about. When we read, we are challenged in ways we would rarely think of. Hughes says, “to deny ourselves the wealth of the accumulated saints of the centuries is to consciously embrace spiritual anorexia.” So what are you reading? Keep in mind that reading Christian literature is not to replace reading our Bibles, but to be in addition to it.
Two More Ways
Two other ways to program our minds and solidify Christian thinking that I would add would be to discuss scriptural truths and to teach them. When we discuss biblical truths with each other, we are refining each other and helping each other think. Every believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and God may use your thoughts to spur my thoughts and visa versa. In this way we disciple each other and correct each other. It is far too easy to color the things I think I am learning with my own ideas, thoughts, desires, and bents. Discussing these with a brother in Christ allows for correction and feedback.
Teaching biblical truths also is a fantastic way to develop a Christian mind. I can remember many times when I thought I knew a concept, but then when I had to teach it to someone else, I realized how little I knew. It is absolutely true that the teacher usually gets more out of the lesson than the hearer. When we take the time to prepare, understand, and then present God’s truths, we are training our minds to be godly. Men, we need more teachers! Aspire to know God’s Word so that you can teach God’s Word.
This chapter was a great reminder of Garbage In, Garbage Out. What are you filling your mind with today? Let’s take our minds to the gym!
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