I've been reading through the book of Isaiah, and there have been many moments where I've stopped and thought, Wow. You just cannot read the book of Isaiah without feeling awe for God's power, shame for humanity's foolishness and sin, and praise for the Messiah who, from our future perspective,...
The human brain is arguably one of the most complex organisms that God has ever designed. Did you know:
- The human brain is composed of approximately 78% water, 10% lipids, 8% protein, 1% carbohydrates, 2% soluble organics, 1% inorganic salt?
- From the time of birth, a baby’s brain will grow three times in the course of year?
- The brain generates 25 watts of power while we’re awake and that is enough to illuminate a light bulb?
Amazingly, the left side of our brain controls the right side of our body, and vice versa. There are about 100 billion neurons in the human brain, which equates to the same number of stars in our galaxy. And if that is not enough to boggle your mind it is estimated that number of thoughts a person has on an average day is estimated to be 70,000!
God designed us to think. But our thoughts aren’t always the most God-honoring on a day-to-day basis.
As a believer, my desire is to think like Jesus, despite knowing that Scripture tells me, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8). It isn’t easy to think like Jesus using my own mental capacity. However, I have learned that the older I get, the simpler my thoughts in terms of subject matter and depth, as I try to focus my mental energy on eternity with Jesus.
No matter how I think there are times where I enter into seasons of what I call “stinkin’ thinkin’.” If I leave this type of thinking unchecked, it could very easily lead me to a hardened heart and eventually down the destructive road to sin. Believer, when temptation is your constant companion, sin is not far behind. God warns us in Genesis 4:7, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
Sin is crouching at my door, and it is crouching at yours as well. So what do we do when a poor thought enters the mind? God’s Word has the answer.
Think About These Things
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. (Philippians 4:8)
When we look at this list of human virtues, we actually see a small portion of the extensive attributes of God. If we were created in his image (Genesis 1:27), shouldn’t we strive to attain and display these attributes as well?
True – God is truth. So we should be truthful in our speech, in our actions, and in our thoughts (John 14:6).
Honorable – God is honorable. He keeps his word, and he does what he says he’s going to do (1 Samuel 2:30; Isaiah 8:13).
Just – God is justice. He will mete out punishment to those who are not his, according to the offence (Psalm 111:7).
Pure – God is pure. There are no flaws in his person, his nature, or his Word (Psalm 19:8).
Lovely – God is beautiful. He is perfect in every way, and the things he creates are stunningly beautiful works of art. (Psalm 104:1)
Commendable – God is to be commended. Everything he does is worthy of our praise and adoration (Psalm 150:2).
Excellence – God is the epitome of excellence. There is nothing and no one finer than God (2 Peter 1:3).
Praise-worthy – God is praise-worthy. He is greatly to be praised at all times and in all situations (2 Samuel 22:4).
Given our self-absorbed nature is it possible to think about these things?
Thinking with the Mind of Christ
One of the many things that I love about Philippians 4:8 is that it is a great teaching moment from the Apostle Paul. The very things that Paul is asking me to think about actually turn me back to God, helping me realize all over again how great he truly is and how much work he has left to do in me. It also helps me realize that I am a sinner saved by God’s grace and that, no matter how hard I try, I will continue to struggle with a thought-life that isn’t glorifying to God.
While this might sound a bit discouraging, we should remember that we have Christ in us. And because we have Christ in us, we have the mind of Christ as well. 1 Corinthians 2:16 encourages us, “’For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”
Please note that it does not say, “We have the same mind as Christ.” So what does it mean to “have the mind of Christ?” To have the mind of Christ means we share the plan, purpose, and perspective of Christ.
What does this look like?
Plan – We understand God’s plan for mankind—to bring glory to himself and provide salvation for sinners.
Purpose – We share the same purpose as Jesus by sharing the gospel with the lost (Luke 19:10).
Perspective – We share the same perspective of humility and obedience (Philippians 2:5-8), compassion (Matthew 9:36), and prayerful dependence on God (Luke 5:16) as Jesus displayed while here on earth.
In Philippians 2:1, the Apostle Paul encourages and exhorts the faithful in Philippi that their life is in Christ. Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose for all so that we could have his mind (2:5).
In Philippians 4:9 he states, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Thinking differently takes desire, practice, and our unending love for the Lord. Because we love Jesus we want to think true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praise-worthy thoughts. Philippians 4:8 provides ample hope and motivation to help move us away from “stinkin’ thinkin’.”
In closing, Paul’s instruction on thinking translates very well to modern times. Our thoughts are vitally important to our spiritual development and, in turn, our growing relationship with the Lord. No doubt, you have heard the computer term “garbage in, garbage out.” Believer, your thought life will function like that if you take in things opposed to the mind of Christ. It is fortunate that we have a helper in the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, giving us wisdom and working in us his mind. Our part to thinking differently is being responsible to yield to the Holy Spirit’s promptings (Ephesians 4:30), thereby allowing the Holy Spirit to transform and renew our minds.
The key to thinking differently is Christ in us.