The Christian community today is largely imperative driven. We major in the “ought to” and “how to” with little regard for that which makes us “want to.” – Jerry Bridges
If you live in the why, you will.
I’m sure we’ve all heard many sermons or devotionals on Romans 12:1-2. A variety of different points can be drawn out of these verses, but I wanted to relate it to the above quotes. Verse 2 states “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Be transformed by… by what?
By the renewing of your mind.
A transformed life begins with a transformed mind. What we believe impacts what we do, and what we do impacts the outcome of our life. Unfortunately, it seems like we can be prone to focus on the doing part. “I need to do these 3 things differently.” Well, there is some truth there. We do need to change what we do.
The problem is when we bypass the mind part. Before we change what we do, we need to examine our beliefs. We also need to consider what is influencing our minds. Our minds are like filters through which we make decisions in life. If the filter is off, our actions will be off.
Another consideration is that when we jump to action and evade the mind, we are missing the “want to” or the “why” part. See the quotes at the beginning of this post. What is our motivation? What makes us want to change? What is the why behind it?
Wrong or improper motives can lead to change, but generally this leads to temporary rather than lasting change. Guilt, an enthusiastic pep talk, pressure tactics…many such things can make us change what we do…for a little while.
We can be guilty of using wrong tactics with others. Think about it. A friend calls with a problem, and we want to solve their problem – so we tell them what to do. But perhaps some introspection is in order for both them and you. Are you really so confident that you can give stellar advice? Instead of telling them what to do, maybe it would be better to carefully listen, ask a couple thoughtful questions, pray, and point them to Christ? (I’m not saying we should never give advice, but we seem to jump there too quickly.)
What actually got me thinking about all this was…Father’s Day…and Father’s Day sermons across the USA such as “5 ways to be a better dad.” Here we go – it is the “ought to” and “how to” with little regard for what makes us “want to.”
I think a helpful Father’s Day sermon could be on the doctrine of God as Father. This is a touching and powerful New Testament teaching. When we come to Christ, we are adopted into God’s family and God becomes a Father to us. A proper grasp of this teaching can be a powerful motivator for us to imitate our heavenly Father by giving fatherly care to our children, and others in our life too.
[A side point…a sermon such as “5 ways to be a better dad” only applies to the dads in the audience, but a sermon on God as Father can apply to everyone.]
Bringing this to a close, I hope the thoughts about God as Father remind us that our transformation by the renewing of our minds must be grounded in the Gospel – the good news of the person and work of Jesus Christ. Emphasizing the mind does not mean we are relying on our own intelligence, but looking to Christ, his Word (the Bible), and walking in the Spirit.
-Your thoughts are always welcome.