What are you thinking right now? Why do you think the way you do? Scientists tell us that what and how we think affects the way we feel and how we feel impacts the choices we make. As human beings, thinking is a natural response to what we see, hear, touch, taste and smell. Dr Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist, says this: “what you are thinking every moment of every day becomes a physical reality in your brain and body, which affects your optimal mental and physical health. These thoughts collectively form your attitude, which is your state of mind, and it’s your attitude and not your DNA that determines much of the quality of your life.” So by any measure, our thoughts are immensely powerful especially because of the impact they have on our choices.
Much of who we are as human beings isn’t visible. The parts of me that think and feel aren’t tangible, you cannot touch the mind of a person. Yet, you can tell what goes on in a person’s mind by what they do. According to Dr Leaf, there is now scientific evidence that shows that our thoughts cause a change in the physical structure of our brains. She continues to highlight that we determine what is in a given thought because we choose the information used to build that thought and we also choose what emotion we attach to that thought. So, if someone cuts in front of me in traffic, I can choose to give them the benefit of the doubt and think that they have a good reason. I can choose not to get upset. Alternatively, I can choose to believe they are rude and get upset about it. I can let that episode ruin my day and take my frustration out on others or I can let it go and enjoy my day. In either case, my thoughts affect my actions.
If what happens in our minds has a direct impact on what we do, then, we must pay attention to the things that affect our mindset. Do you consciously filter the inputs from your five sense, especially what you see and hear? Companies pay a lot of money to influence us through what we see and hear. They know how easily we can be persuaded by a 30-second advert. How much more can the things we see and hear regularly impact our mindset? Numerous research articles have shown that a lot of us spend too much time watching TV, on social media, playing video games, etc. On the other hand, a lot of us are reading less and spending less time on introspection. Even when we socialise, we talk more about people and events, rather than ideas. More than ever, I believe we have to be very deliberate about what we see and hear.
Paul writing to the church in Corinth reminded them (and all believers), that “we have the mind of Christ”. To enable us to act like Jesus, God has endowed all believers with a mind that can think, feel and choose like Jesus. This is the Christian mind. R. Kent Hughes says “the way to a Christian mind is through God’s word”, so how much of God’s word are you taking in? After Moses gave the Israelites God’s law, he gave them this command:” … these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be [written] on your heart and mind. You shall teach them diligently to your children [impressing God’s precepts on their minds and penetrating their hearts with His truths] and shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand (forearm), and they shall be used as bands (frontals, frontlets) on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” [Deuteronomy 6:6-9 AMP]. This is what we must do if we want the mind of Christ.
If we have the mind of Christ, then it is possible to take every thought captive and destroy every argument and lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God [2 Corinthians 10:5]. Then we can see and love ourselves as God sees and loves us. We can also genuinely see and love others as God sees and loves them [Luke 10:27]. We will be able to respond to the circumstances of life in a way that pleases God. The truth is no one can follow Jesus with a mindset contrary to His own. This is why Paul calls us to renew our minds [Romans 12:2] because once the mind is set right, our thoughts and actions will follow suit.
Embracing and maintaining the mind of Christ isn’t easy because there is so much competition for our minds. It takes a while to undo the effects of the bad inputs we have let in over the years. I know I struggle with thinking like Christ. I am prone to greed, lust, bitterness, anger, envy, pride and other forms of ungodliness. However, I can also see God’s redeeming work in my life as I allow His word to govern my life because God’s grace is abundant for us [Romans 5:20]. The challenge for you and I is to do all we can to ensure that God’s transforming word is the overwhelming input for my mind. Have you made the decision to do this?