Our society today has embraced a culture of meaninglessness whereby one does what one feels like doing; it does not matter what it is, if can be done, it will be done for it means nothing anyway. Christians are not spared either and they too go by feelings and not reasoning. Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:30 cautions us to grow up, 'Brothers, stop thinking like children, in regard to evil be like infants, but in your thinking be adults'. And further in 1Peter 1:13,'Therefore prepare your minds for action; be self controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed'. Isaiah 1:18 shows us God's thoughts towards engaging our minds, 'Come now, let us reason together' He says. God wants us to use our minds and not just operate on auto-pilot. Why then is the Christian so anti-mind-use? Because the devil is up to his wiles and he knows that if we engage our minds, then not only will we read the bible and be empowered, but that we will become unstoppable and unlock our potential! The very potential he has chained in laziness, apathy, drugs, alcohol, pride and in all sorts of sin.
The family of God is called to love God, Mark 12:30 tells us how, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength', for the mind is the center from which all the action comes. The Scriptures say that as a man thinketh, so is he; what we think of ourselves, what comes out of our minds and infiltrates into our speech, that is who we are, that is what we hold dear and that is what we fill our minds with. Therefore Christian thinking is a prerequisite of Christian action.
As Christians, we need to think like Christians. Roman 1:21 warns us on what leads to backsliding or apostasy, 'For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened'. Thoughts that are based on Christian truths bring out several things.
Firstly, such thoughts glorify our creator. Our thinking must be God-minded as we are told above. He must be glorified in all that we do. We must give him thanks in all that we are going through whether good or bad for He will never put us through something that will not grow us. He has created us as rational beings and in His very own image. God does not waste His resources; he has a purpose in all that He does. To this end therefore He gives us an independent mind to reason with and no one should therefore take charge of our lives except ourselves with His guidance through our Lord Jesus Christ. With this mind He expects us to receive guidance but also to use it and grow it for His glory. Everything is about God, nothing is about us, for there is no 'us' without Him. Only He can put us in the path of destiny that He has for us. Psalms32:8-9 maintains, 'I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go, I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you'.
God reveals Himself in the Scriptures. He will not intervene if we do not think about Him and although we leave all the burden of thought to the preachers and teachers of the Word, we too have a responsibility to study and know Him and about Him in His Word. We must be responsible for what we hear from the preachers and teachers of the Word and have a discerning spirit concerning its correctness, this is only possible if we too spend time in the Word; everyone will be judged individually for the lives they led on earth. Like the Bereans did with Paul in the book of Acts, we must check out what we are told especially when it does not resonate with what we know about the truth that is in the Gospel. We should not follow personalities blindly; let the Lord instruct us in His Word through the Holy Spirit.
Secondly, such truths grow us. Most Christian lack understanding of the Word and the Lord tells us why in Hosea 4:6, 'My people are destroyed because of lack of knowledge'. If we do not use our minds, our area of ministry is smaller, more constricted. Apostle Paul gave himself to the study of God's Word and as a result He was able to write so much more of the Scriptures in his Epistles to the saints in various churches. Our own reasoned study of the Word will impact society but especially increase our own faith. Faith is contrasted by sight not reason; as such it does not go contrary to the latter. There is absolutely no opposition between mind and faith.
Knowledge is the foundation of faith. We do not make a blind leap into faith; we first know something about what we are believing in. If it is having faith in God, it is because of what we have seen Him do in our lives: how He has changed us after salvation, how He has come through for us in our hard times, how He has comforted us in our depression, how He has healed us of our diseases, how He has answered our prayers and how closely He stays by us when trouble is brewing. Faith is what sustains us when things go wrong and it is what we know about Him that sustains us. We worship God to the extent that we know Him, our commitment, our service our giving are based on how we perceive Him. How then can we know Him if we do not look for Him in His Word? It is in knowing Him that we grow to serve Him even more.
Thirdly, Christian truths strengthen our witness to the world. 1Peter 3:15 tells us, 'But in your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this in gentleness and respect'. We are in the business of persuading men but some of us are not even sure about what we profess as follows of Christ! Further more, most of us are afraid to witness to those who are still in the world because we are not sure we can hold our ground if questions arise. In 2Corinthians 5:10 Paul contends,' 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'. If we engage our minds in the study of the Word, we will boldly face the world.
What we need is to fear the Lord. Proverbs 1:7 says, 'the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline'. If we have a fear of our Lord, we will obey Him and do as He asks us. We will listen to His instructions concerning us and we will stop looking at the world for answers for we ourselves will provide the answers that the world is looking for through the enablement of God through Christ. Isaiah 1:19 educates us, 'If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land, but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword'. The real foundation of thinking is in the fear of the Lord because this determines the limits to which we can go.
We need to think within the confines of our love for God by reading and interpreting the Word through the instruction of the Holy Spirit. We must also diversify our reading to include other Christian books which may help us in developing our thoughts and our perseverance to study. However, we must also repent to our God for our intellectual sloth, for the way in which we have ignored to study His Word. When we do this, we are taking appropriate action in the right direction.
God can do so much more for us. We may think that we have reached the end of our talents, but God can elevate us to new levels. Ephesians 3:20 gives us a glimpse, 'Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us'. God is calling us to honor Him with our minds. He is calling us to seek out our knowledge of Him beyond what we know.
We can no longer afford to be anti-intellectual because all truth is God's truth. But we must now discern further because if we think right, our faith will be right.
May these words (sermons), from various men and women of God be a blessing to all.