To grow in grace, you must renew your mind, but how? What impact will a renewed mind have on your life and the lives of those around you?
Do me a favor and think of the most graceful woman you know. It’s likely someone immediately comes to mind.
Now, take a moment and consider what makes you think of her as graceful. It could be that she’s perfectly poised or simply stylish. Maybe she’s well spoken or the epitome of a hospitable hostess.
Whatever the reason, something about her is different, and you’ve noticed.
The women who come to my mind aren’t just graceful; they’re grace-full. The misson-field mentor I mentioned when we kicked off this series on Growing in Grace is one of them. She speaks with wisdom, encourages with compassion and listens with love. She really does “spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere” she goes. (2 Corinthians 2:14)
She and other women like her are truly different from others because they have followed the command in Romans 12:2, which says,
“Do not conform any longer 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.”
Y’all, there’s a reason I go to her when I need guidance or advice. She has the wisdom that comes from a life of renewing her mind with the word of God.
I want to be like that. I want to be able to discern God’s will, to know not just the good way to go but the perfect one.
That’s why renewing our minds is essential to growing in grace.
But how do we do it? How can you renew your mind?
To Renew Your Mind, First Understand How Your Mind Works
Romans 8:5-9 says, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.”
If you want to renew your mind, you must start with an understanding of the fact that your mind will be controlled by something.
The verses above make that clear.
As believers, our minds are to be controlled by the Spirit, but how does that happen? How do we set our minds on the things the Spirit desires and allow Him to control them?
The first step is to realize that we have the power to choose what we think about, what we focus on.
Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
I tend to look at commands in Scripture like this: God’s word wouldn’t tell us to do something if it weren’t possible to do it.
If that’s true, then how do we set our minds on things above? What things should we focus on?
The answer is found in Philippians 4:8, which tells us:
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
Do you ever just need an attitude adjustment? I know I do. Some days, I wake up ready to war with the world around me. Nothing is right, from the clothes in my closet to the breakfast on the table…and don’t get me started on the people around me. Everywhere I look, I only see the negative, and my actions reflect my attitude.
The thing is when we look for negative things, we surely find them. When I’m in such a mood, nothing my husband does is right or good enough, and my children have a mom with a sharp-tongue and little patience. Perhaps you’ve been there, too?
The thing is, Ephesians 4:22-24 says, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
To change our behavior, we have to change our thinking. That’s why renewing our minds matters so much.
When I was in fifth grade, I did a science experiment in which I placed stalks of celery in water with food coloring. Over the course of a few days, the celery absorbed the water and the dye. The leaves at the top of the stalk eventually turned red because…
What We Soak Up Eventually Shows Up
There are plenty of times in life when we will hear or see things without choosing to watch or listen. It does happen, but more often, our minds need renewing from the things we choose to soak up.
Think about it. Everyday, we choose what movies or TV shows we watch, what web sites we browse, and which magazines we read. We need to follow the example of the Psalmist and make a commitment to stop saturating our minds with images and ideas that are not pleasing to the Lord. David wrote:
“I will set before my eyes no vile thing.” (Psalm 101:3)
Are we willing to make that same commitment?
To Renew Your Mind, You Must Realize The Standard is Already Set
Listen, we’d be kidding ourselves if we thought our minds aren’t daily filled with ideas that are contrary to Christ.
Look at the news each day, flip through some text books, turn on the radio and listen closely to some songs. What you’ll find is a world waging war against the knowledge of God.
Our culture says there is no moral standard for everyone to follow. Many people preach that all roads (or religions) lead to God. We’re bombarded with arguments against Christ and excuses not to obey Him.
That’s where 2 Corinthians 10:5 comes in. It says:
“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.”
We cannot simply believe everything we’re told. We must test things with the Truth. We have to see for ourselves what God’s word says and then obey it.
When we do find ideas that aren’t in line with what His word says, we must take the Truth and hold it tight.
It isn’t easy though.
What to Do with Worry?
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I tend to worry. A lot. I guess it’s just part of having a vivid imagination…I can see every possible scenario, and most of them don’t look good. I focus on what might be instead of what actually is.
Sometimes, I let those imaginary scenarios play like broken records in my mind. Over and over again.
Do you know what that’s called? Meditation.
As we work toward renewing our minds, we have to realize that we WILL meditate on something, but we get to choose what that something is.
Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you.”
This verse says “whose mind is steadfast,” but that has also been translated “whose mind is stayed on Thee.”
That means that God keeps in perfect peace the person whose mind is stuck on him. Think about it. Worry is absolutely the absence of peace, but there is a way to put peace back in its place.
Philippians 4:6-7 tells us: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your MINDS in Christ Jesus.”
See, shifting our focus from what if (whatever we’re worrying about) to what is (our good and loving God) can bring us peace.
In my own life, when I worry about the safety and health of my family, I can lose sleep and peace until I remember the truth that “I will lie down and sleep in peace for you alone, O Lord, make me (or my family) dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)
If I am fretting because of feeling guilty about sins in my life, I remember that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
What are you worrying about this week? And, more importantly, what does God’s word say about it?
Shift your focus today to the truth of who God is and what He has done for you!
I’d love to hear from you about how you renew your mind? Do you meditate on certain verses or do other things to help take your thoughts captive to Christ?
I’d also be thrilled if you would join us for Encouraging Word Wednesday! Please leave one or two links to some of your favorite faith-filled posts then visit one or two other bloggers and encouraging them today!