Today we continue our journey through Barbara Hughes’ book, Disciplines of a Godly Woman, as we pursue growth in Christ-likeness. We are now on chapter 6, “Discipline of the Mind”.
What we want to focus on today is how we use our minds for growth in godliness. This is very important. Your mind will affect every area of godly discipline. It is the pathway by which we internalize information to be stored in our heart. Our thoughts directly influence our behaviors. What we think and believe, we will act on.
Paul tells Christians: “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2). We can follow this verse backwards to help us understand it: The renewing of our minds brings about a transformation in us by which we will no longer act like the world (which is a telltale sign of a Christian). The renewing of our minds occurs because we are made into a new creation when we are redeemed by Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). Our whole being is redeemed, including our minds. We are no longer slaves to thinking like the world thinks. We should begin to think like Christ.
Knowing that our minds can be made new in Christ should be thrilling news to many of us. This means we are not stuck with our old thought patterns. We don’t have to give in to anxiety, depression, worry, or negativity any longer. We don’t have to allow our minds to sin with thoughts of hate, anger, envy or lust. Our brains can be sanctified! And truly, they must progress in sanctification as we mature if we belong to God.
How do we go about training our minds in godly thinking? There is a great list provided for us in Philippians 2:8 by Paul, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” This list culminates in the person of Jesus Christ who is the best subject for our thoughts. The opposite of this list is also true (as Hughes points out on page 69). We should not then think on what is: untrue, ignoble, wrong, impure, unlovely, not admirable, shoddy, or unworthy of praise.
What we need to understand is that our minds will consume and take in whatever it is we feed it.
In Psalm 101 we see David’s utter devotion to guarding his heart and mind. The whole Psalm is excellent, but look at verse 3: “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.” Notice that the word used is “worthless,” not “evil” or “wicked.” Even what we might consider “harmless” or “neutral” may still be worthless, meaning it is of no value to us. What caused David’s most notorious sin? He did not go out to battle and allowed his eyes to linger on a beautiful woman. His thoughts then turned into actions that were destructive. What you allow before your eyes (and that of your children) matters a great deal!
Therefore we need to feed our minds with what is good. This, of course, is where Scripture comes in. There is nothing better to fill your mind with than God’s very words. “You can never have a Christian mind without regular reading of the Scriptures and serious Bible study. Why is this? Because you cannot be profoundly influenced by what you don’t know.” (Hughes, page 72). This is how the renewing of our minds takes place, by the words of God working on it. That is how the transformation of our behavior occurs.
Even the word “disciple” in Greek means “a learner”. If we want to be a disciple of Christ, we must be learners, students of God’s words, works, and ways. This does not mean we have to have a high IQ to serve God well. It means we need to keep growing in our knowledge of him. The amazing thing is that when we set our minds on the Lord we are loving him! “And you shall love the Lord your God…with all your mind.” (Mark 12:30).
Ladies, we need to be intentional in what we allow into our minds. We can be lax in this area and let the world fill it with what is worthless or we can become disciplined and train our minds to think on what is good and praise worthy. If we want to be more like Jesus we need to set him before us continually, allowing ourselves to be profoundly influenced by him above all else. “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8.