The world we live in is full of things that clamour for our attention. We are urged to fill our minds with them. If you look at adverts in magazines, before films, on the television, for example, the impression is given that a certain type of car or even chocolate bar will change your life. At the wheel of that particular car, you will become more glamorous and other people will be impressed by your new, stylish image. Thankfully, most of us view this sort of advertising with a healthy dose of cynicism!
Driven by others?
Yet even if we can see how the advert is trying to manipulate us, we are not necessarily immune to its effects. How often have you decided to buy something on the strength of it being made attractive to you through advertising? Possibly more than you realise, because your mind has retained the images projected by the advert.
Our minds are powerful things. That is the way God created them. We can overcome tremendous difficulties through mind-power. Jesus did. The most powerful mind is the one that is subject to God. Jesus allowed God to work with him, but it was not easy for him. We only need to read the account of his sufferings in Gethsemane to realise that. Yet he handed over his mind to God, saying, “Not my will, but yours.” If we can control our own minds, we are able to achieve amazing things.
In the Authorised Version of the Bible, Titus 2 v 6 reads,
Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.
The Revised Standard Version puts it like this:
Likewise urge the younger men to control themselves.
Driven by Ourselves?
Self-control, or self-discipline, is not easy to learn. Yet if you look at any successful musician or sportsman or woman, you can see how much they have had to discipline themselves to become so skilled. When others have decided they have had enough, these people have continued to work on their skills, developing them to such a level that they know they can achieve something special.
There are plenty of people who have achieved amazing things through self- discipline. Without God, though, the things we achieve will not last. Injury or disease can suddenly take away the skills we have been polishing for so long. Death is the ultimate end to even the greatest of human successes.
Jesus did not train his mind for short-term things. When he quoted the great commandment in the law to a lawyer who was questioning him, he said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind”. No half-measures here. He said, “all your heart, soul and mind.” We probably think we have been godly if we read a small part of the Bible every day, but if we don’t give our minds to it, we are not doing as Jesus taught.
An Objective for Life
Throughout the Bible there is help and advice for living. As we have discussed in this article, the mind is a powerful thing. Here’s an interesting verse that we might look on as an objective for our lives:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
Putting it another way, we can let it all happen to us – we can have our minds and thought processes moulded to the standards of this world, or, we can be pro-active and look to God’s word, developing something far better than a copy. Here’s another verse that confirms that being proactive in this way is aspiring to greater things. God says:
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isa 55:9 (NKJV)
Support in Training
Training our minds to be the way God wants them to be is hard. Jesus found it hard. You will have times when you feel you are getting nowhere, but don’t give up. Isaiah 26 v 3 tells us:
You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
Jesus was able to lay down his life for us because his mind was “stayed” or “supported” by God. At his trial, instead of breaking under the strain, he remained silent and in control of himself. Around him, people were shouting, cursing, slapping, but his mind was made up. He was going to go through with this final task, and nothing was going to stop him. He was not in a peaceful place, but in his mind there was a place of refuge because God was there, supporting him.
Why not memorise these words so that they are in your mind when things get difficult? “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.“