I have often heard the saying “You are what you eat!” Well, there is some truth to that. But I think a more pressing issue is “You are what you think.” I am convinced the pressing problem in our lives is that we don’t think well. And every action begins with a thought. Every day I get up, I first give my mind to God and ask him to help me to think well during the day.
In other words, I want a mind that is used for his glory. I don’t always do this. But with God’s grace I strive to improve in this area every day. So let me give a few tips for thinking well.
First, Paul gives us some helpful tips:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 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. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.-Philippians 4: 4-9
Notice that , Paul wants us to “dwell” which means to concentrate on the following:
- Things that are “true”—the opposite of erroneous thinking
- Things that are “righteous” —our thoughts must be in line with the unchanging character of God who is perfectly righteous
- “Things that are honorable”—things that are worthy of our adoration and devotion…not things that profane the name of God
- “Pure” —things that are morally pure and undefiled
- “Honorable”—things that deserve to be commended.
I am convinced that throughout the day, Christians don’t dwell on the these things. We dwell on things that don’t match up with reality or we dwell on things that cause us to covet or to be discontent or envious. Also, if you watch enough reality television, that will not help matters.
Second, the Christian Needs to Know the Key Idea Structures of the Culture
“False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel. We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation to be controlled by ideas […] which prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion.” – J. Gresham Machen, “Christianity and Culture,” Princeton Theological Review 11 (1913):
Paul speaks about this here:
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5 ).
C.S. Lewis said, “Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.” There is a lot of truth here. The Christian needs to know the idea structures of the world. This includes a thorough understanding of naturalism, pragmatism, rationalism, etc. A good primer is The Consequences of Ideas, by R.C. Sproul
Third, the Christian Needs to Renew Their Minds Daily
Paul also gives us a key text here:
“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. 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.”- Romans 12: 1-2
It is impossible to have a disciplined mind apart from regular mediation and reading of the text. There is a difference between devotional reading and studying the text. If we want to think well, we need to ingest the Bible on a daily basis. It is good for us and keeps us sharp and close to God.
Fourth, Thinking Well Means We Need to Know Our Identity In Christ
It is imperative that we continually know our position in Christ. The power of the resurrection comes to us everyday in Christ. Therefore, God wants us to experience the resurrection power of Jesus on an ongoing basis. As Paul says in Galatians 2:19-20, “For through the law I died to the law, that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.” What we tend to forget that Jesus did not die and rose from the dead only for us to go to heaven. He has given us victory over sin in this life- he broke the power of sin. Yes, we will still sin some times. But, we should not make excuses and say I just can’t overcome any sin. That is a lie. And it not based on a positional understanding of our relationship with God.
If we don’t think well, we will forget our position and identity in the Lord. We will take our identity from other’s opinions of us or what we have or don’t have.
I hope these tips help. Have a blessed day!