I lean more in the direction of being an introvert than an extrovert. I like quiet spaces. Alone time. Time to think, read, or pray. The problem is, not ALL of my thoughts have been brought under the loving rule of Jesus! My thinking, just like the rest of me, can be influenced by my sinful nature. And so I need to allow God to renew my mind continually. Daily.
So what are some simple and practical ways to allow God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to renew our minds? I wanted to share three ways that I have found especially helpful.
When my thinking gets off track, she will say, ‘Don’t go to Hollywood in your head!’
The Bible has a lot to say about our thinking. The mind is not neutral when it comes to growing in Christ. The Apostle Paul, when writing to the church in Rome, emphasized the importance of “renewing the mind” in the process of being transformed.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” -Romans 12:2
He gives us a good contrast in this short verse. “Do not be conformed…be transformed.” As followers of Jesus, we are not to become like the world in our thinking, attitudes, and behaviors. Instead, we are to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus increasingly. Having our minds renewed plays a crucial part in God’s transforming work of who we are.
In numerous places throughout the Bible, we are reminded of the different ways sin can influence our thinking or mind. Our thinking can be dull, anxious, restless, evil, confused, and depraved to name a few! It’s no wonder our thinking gets us in so much trouble. It would be wise not to trust every thought we have!
Most of the time our feelings or emotions follow our thinking. For example, when my mind becomes consumed with thinking about all of the “what-ifs” in life, I quickly begin to feel afraid, sad, or even depressed. It’s like a bad game of dominos – our thinking falls first, then takes down our feelings, which later gets fleshed out (literally) in the way we act (our bodies)! It’s no wonder God calls us to renew our mind in the process of renewing us.
So here are the three ways I’ve found to bring about daily renewal of my mind:
- Saturate your mind with God’s Word
Simple, but powerful. Get in the habit of exposing your heart and mind to God’s Word each day. The primary way God speaks to us today is through His written Word -the Bible. All of the Bible is useful for “teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Let it hit you between the eyes. Challenge you. Expose lies you believe. Lead you out of sin. And let it keep bringing you back to the love and grace of Jesus. Knowing God’s Word helps us to trust what He says and not just how we feel.
- Surround yourself with Godly people
My wife Ruth uses a phrase often in our home. When my thinking gets off track, she will say, “Don’t go to Hollywood in your head!” It’s her loving way of reminding me not to believe everything I think. She has a way of bringing me back to reality, back to what is right, and often, back to what God has said or promised. We all need wise, Godly people around us who can guard our minds against sinful thinking. People who can encourage us, speak the truth to us, and lead us to Jesus. The presence of the Holy Spirit at work in a friend or family member is a great gift when it comes to renewing our minds.
- Think about Jesus often
And finally, Colossians 3:2 tells us to “set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Our minds can so easily be captured by stuff that doesn’t matter. Things that won’t last. We need to think about Jesus regularly. We need to have our thoughts and imaginations captured with the goodness of who He is and what He has done. Think often about what He did for you and me on the cross. Think deeply about the resurrection. Let your mind return and rest on the hope of Christ’s return, the promise of heaven. It is not only how much we think of Jesus, but also how often we think of Jesus that has transforming power.
Guard your mind. Pay attention and be wise about what you let in – what you watch, listen to, and what entertains you. Our minds matter as we are pursuing growth in Christ. God wants to give you His life, a life of truth and love and joy and peace and hope. Much of that life begins when we allow our minds to be made new and alive by the work of God’s Spirit.
Patrick Schwenk is a husband, father, pastor, and author. Along with his, wife, Patrick is the creator of For the Family and the author of For Better or For Kids: A Vow to Love Your Spouse with Kids in the House.