How to Develop the Mind of Christ
- Jennifer Slattery JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com
- 2017 3 Mar
Our thoughts have the power to paralyze or motivate us, to thrust us into the depths of despair or propel us to the heights of celebration. They can center us in truth or lead us, slowly but steadily down the destructive path of deception. Scripture tells us human wisdom is faulty at best, leading mankind to call good evil and evil good.
Imagine having the power to rise above our petty, contrary, and often harmful thought patterns to view our world and circumstances as Christ does. Though we can’t know all that our Savior does, Scripture tells us once we accept His free gift of salvation, we’re given the mind of Christ.
This means we have the ability to maintain the same focus and values as Christ has. I believe it also means viewing the world through a Christ-centered lens. And yet this gift, which is given to every believer freely, must be developed in order to be of full value. We do this by taking our thoughts captive; reading, memorizing, and meditating on Scripture; spending consistent time in the presence of Christ; and leaning heavily on a trusted accountability partner.
Taking Our Thoughts Captive
At each moment, we are fighting an internal battle, one that can either bring us one step closer to Christ or pull us farther from Him. We can feed our deceived, self-centered, and self-destructive thinking until we become enslaved by sinful thought processes, or we can focus on God’s truth, as revealed in His Word.
In other words, we have the power to choose which thoughts we will entertain and which ones we will discard. God invites us to focus on truth.
According to Dr. Steve Hicks, Discipleship Pastor at Lifespring Church in Bellevue, Nebraska (http://lifespringchurch.com/), believers are under a cosmic battle and much of this battle is centered in the mind. Speaking of the devil, known in Scripture as the deceiver, he says, “Unfortunately, too many fall prey to the roaring lion who seeks to destroy. The only way to have victory over the ploys of the deceiver is to [control every thought] in order to obey Christ. If we fail [to do this], the thinking and philosophies of this world will take us captive.”
One of the best ways we do this is through prayer, asking God to remove all false thinking and replace it with His truth.
Feeding Our Minds with Truth
It’s not enough to simply expel negative or deceptive thinking. If that’s the extend of our efforts, we’ll find ourselves fighting the same battle again and again. To truly walk in freedom and begin to think as Christ does, we’ll need to counter and replace falsehoods with truth found in Scripture.
Out of all the spiritual weapons mentioned in Ephesians chapter six, the sword of truth, which is the word of God, is our only offensive weapon. Ephesians 4:10 tells us “…the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
God’s Word expels darkness, annihilates lies, destroys deception and transforms our thinking until our thoughts begin to resemble His.
Connecting with Godly Friends
Our culture is constantly bombarding us with messages that are contrary to Scripture. If we’re not careful, we can easily become desensitized to the things of God until our perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes begin to conform to the culture.
According to Dr. Leslie Umstattd, Children and Women’s Ministry Director of Northland Baptist Church in Kansas City (http://www.nbckc.org/), our friends can draw us closer to Christ and His wisdom or pull us further from him. “Having friends who always point us to the Truth of what God’s Word says is vital to our Christian walk,” she says. “We need believers to come alongside us, pointing us to Him and His ways. No matter the situation or circumstance, our truth filter must prevail, and the friends we allow in our life must encourage us towards that.”
Proverbs 13:20 says, “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble” (NLT). Furthermore, “The instruction of the wise is like a life-giving fountain; those who accept it avoid the snares of death” (Proverbs 13:14 NLT).
And lest we wonder what it means to be foolish or wise, Scripture defines that for us as well. A food is one who lives as if there’s no God, and the wise are those who fear Him, which means to hold Him in such reverence, that we submit our lives to Him. (Proverbs 1:7).
Find a Trusted Accountability Partner
The greatest challenge I’ve found in developing a mind of Christ begins with my desire to do so, as often God’s truth fights directly against my will. I tend to want to elevate myself; God calls me to die to myself. I want to seek my comfort and momentary pleasure; God wants me to pursue holiness and those things that glorify Him. I want those who’ve hurt or mistreated me to get their “just share”; God wants me to love, bless, and pray for my enemies.
If left on my own, I would completely self-destruct and become consumed with my faulty, deceived, and selfish way of thinking. But when I invite someone else to hold me accountable, my thoughts and perceptions are challenged, and I’m encouraged to view everything through a Christ-centered lens.
Spend Intimate Time with Christ
As I mentioned previously, we tend to become like those whom we spend a great deal of time with. If we want to view the world as Christ does, we need to spend consistent time with Him, through prayer, worship, and meditating on His Word.
At each moment, our sinful nature rallies against our ultimate purpose of knowing God and making Him known. To live—and think—victoriously, we need to lean hard into Christ.
In John 15:5, Jesus said, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me (some translations say abide) and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing” (NLT).
Thinking as Christ does doesn’t come naturally, nor is it easy. In fact, more often than not, our thoughts and perceptions tend to be contrary to the things of God. Unless we counter our lives with truth and take intentional steps to develop the mind of Christ, we’ll begin to live contrary to God as well, leading to depression, discouragement, loneliness, and isolation. But by focusing on Scripture, surrounding ourselves with godly friends, finding a trusted accountability partner, and staying deeply and vitally connected with Christ, we can begin to view our world, others, and the things we encounter through a Christ-centered lens.
Novelist and speaker Jennifer Slattery has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, (http://whollyloved.com) she and her team put on events at hosting churches designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: March 3, 2017