A Mind Set Free
The thoughts of the righteous are just; the counsels of the wicked are deceitful. (Proverbs 12:5)
When I was in college I had a friend named Marcus who was especially kind, faithful, and Christ-like. Sometimes I wondered how he managed to behave like that – was it real, or some sort of façade? One spring break we went on a missions trip together and I got to see why Marcus acted that way.
During one of our presentations, Marcus’ talk at the event was abruptly canceled when the church we were visiting forgot he was supposed to speak. “I felt resentful that they forgot my talk,” Marcus said afterward. But then he added something that blew me away, “I was surprised to find that attitude in my heart. I need to ask God to change it.”
Marcus’ kindly demeanor, it turned out, was not a cleverly managed façade, but the product of carefully guarding his thoughts, uprooting resentment before it had a chance to work its way in. If you want to be a genuinely Christ-like person, it begins with asking God to fill your mind with “just” thoughts and eliminating “deceitful” ones. As Paul urged the Philippians, “Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
Now Christianity teaches that there already exists a perfectly righteous human mind – namely, the mind of Jesus himself. When he came to the earth – fully God and fully man – Jesus’ every thought was discerning and pure. He saw through the self-righteousness of the Pharisees, he perceived the faith in the repentant tax collectors, he shook off personal attacks on himself but warned against resisting God’s Spirit, he combined justice and mercy harmoniously, and he was always motivated by perfect devotion to his Father. In short, Jesus’ outer life of perfect obedience to God was made possible by his inner life of perfect thinking, of righteous thoughts that guided his every move.
One of the most spectacular things that God has promised to those who love him, is that he will not rest until our minds are as perfect as Christ’s. Imagine a future in which you can see every moral question clearly; in which you are no longer bothered by any personal attack on you; in which relationships with other people are never clouded by uncertainty or mistrust; in which the mental sins of jealousy, pride, resentment, greed, and every other vice have been obliterated; in which you have zero anxiety and unshakable confidence concerning your future with God; in which you perceive the truth about the world and the beauty of God with perfect clarity.
A mental world like that is what our Heavenly Father has in store for all his children. And it is available bit by bit in this life as we, like Marcus, ask for it. “We have the mind of Christ” the apostle Paul proclaims (1 Corinthians 2:16), and insofar as we flood our minds with God’s Word in the power of God’s Spirit, then we also will find ourselves thinking God’s Thoughts.
So today, let’s ask God to destroy every corrupting idea that floats into heads, and fill them instead with what is lovely, pure, discerning, and admirable. After all, it will bring great joy to others as our outer life improves, and even greater joy to ourselves as our inner life conforms to the mind of Christ.
Father, re-make my mind after the likeness of your Son’s. I want my inner thoughts to be like your thoughts, Lord, and for my outer life to reflect that reality. I ask this in Christ’s Name, Amen.