Weekly Wisdoms for the week of September 7, 2020
Where your mind goes, your actions follow. Whatever you think about will dictate your behavior, your attitude, and (ultimately) your direction in life. Your thoughts are sort of like a rudder—they steer the rest of your body.
Considering the influence of your mind on your life, it's no surprise Paul emphasizes that in order for our lives to be changed by Christ our thoughts must first be changed by Him: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2). How are we to be transformed? By renewing (changing, refocusing) our minds so that they reflect the mind of Christ.
If our minds are so important, then it's quite understandable that the devil would fight to gain a foothold in our thoughts. Paul writes, in 2 Corinthians 4:4, The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
What better place for the devil to attack people than in their minds? As thunder follows lighting, so actions follow thoughts. And if Satan can turn your thoughts against God, your actions will assuredly follow.
Therefore, it's imperative that you set your minds on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2). And when you focus your mind on God, it's only a matter of time before your actions, your passions, your attitudes—your whole life—become focused on God.
It is easy to think "If I could just get a new car, a bigger house, a better job, or more money, then I'll be happy." We tend to view happiness as a commodity attainable by wealth. However, as the old saying goes, "money cannot buy happiness."
Indeed, no amount of money or things will ever give you lasting joy or contentment; that's because joy and contentment are not based on circumstances. Therefore, if you're not content with what you have, you won't be content with what you want.
Although at first it may seem difficult, it is very possible to be content even during harsh circumstances. Paul said, in Philippians 4:11-12, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."
In those two verses, Paul is saying that he could be content—that is, have joy—regardless of his circumstances. Joy should not be dependent on circumstances; it should be present regardless of them.
When Paul said that he could be content "in any and every situation," he truly meant everything—even the tough times of testing. In 2 Corinthians 11:24-27, he lists some of the tough times that he has endured: "Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked."
Even in all these things, Paul had "learned to be content." Clearly, it's not our circumstances that steal our joy. You, too, can learn "to be content whatever the circumstances."
Stop thinking that you will have joy after you buy a new house, after you get married, after you buy a better car, after your in-laws treat you right. Don't put off joy until after everything goes your way; decide to have joy now! For you can have joy whatever the circumstances!
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