In a conversation I was having on Sunday, I switched topics mid-talk. As I spoke I saw the other person’s face grow puzzled. She understood my words but they made no sense because she could not see into my mind and realize that I was now onto another subject. I stopped and, after we laughed at the confusion, I explained the shift in my thinking and apologized for not telling her where I was going. Only then did we find understanding. “Let’s try to get on the same page,” we say to someone who is in a different place, coming from another perspective. We know that our words and thoughts find meaning in their context. That is why it is important to frame what we say.
Do you have the ‘mind of Christ?’ Is God able to speak you and find that you have understanding, or are you unable to discern His ways because your thought processes lack the context of the Spirit’s wisdom? This is not about being clever, having superior intelligence, or even about eloquence! This is about living in the Presence of God, having a mind that is shaped by the Word of God.
Paul explains to us why those who are without the Spirit will not understand what we say or why we make choices that we make in life. They lack ‘context’ that gives the words meaning. “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. . . We speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing . . . we speak of God’s secret wisdom . . . as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”— but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit . . . This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. . . “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-17, NIV)
The passage is not about arrogance, nor is it an expression of pride! It is an appeal to think like Jesus thinks, to learn from the Spirit, so that we may live wisely and reflect God’s will and purpose in our world. The Christian, for example, ‘sees’ the reality of eternity. His choice is not just formed around what is best for today. He lives to gain a heavenly reward. Those without the Spirit will wonder about that. Why would someone sacrifice happiness today if Heaven is just an idea, a ‘could be’ thought. They may understand the words in Jesus’ direction to “seek first the Kingdom, to lay up treasures in Heaven,” but they will not have the same kind of conviction that a Spirit-filled disciple has.
So, how do we learn to think like Jesus?
- We must be converted, born of the Spirit, alive to God!
A learned religious leader came to Jesus with questions. Jesus told Nicodemus that he had to be ‘born again,’ in order to understand God’s ways. “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.” (John 3:5-6) The ‘natural’ mind cannot grasp what is spiritually discerned.
- We must walk in obedience.
If we are self-willed, obstinate people, our understanding of God and His ways will be dimmed. The people of Israel left Egypt, guided by the Presence of God. But, over time, they became tired and angry, full of complaint. Their hearts hardened and they missed His will. When they arrived at the entry to the Promised Land, they trusted natural wisdom rather than spiritual wisdom. As a result they refused to go and possess the land. That entire generation died in the wilderness after wandering for 40 years! Obedience is basic to knowing the voice of the Lord. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25, NIV)
- We must pray!
Prayer is not just the time we spend on our knees in some secret place, nor is only the flow of words addressed to God. Prayer is an attitude, a constant state of mind. “Pray continually,” the Word teaches. Yes, be attentive to the voice of the Lord. The Psalm paints a picture of this kind of focus: “I lift my eyes to you, O God, enthroned in heaven. We keep looking to the Lord our God for his mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master, as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal.” (Psalm 123:1-2, NLT) Lord, keep us prayerfully focused, with a heart that eagerly anticipates Your direction.
Let’s live as people of the Spirit, with context and understanding of God’s wisdom, so that our lives will shine with His goodness. Here is a word from the Word. “People who are ruled by their desires think only of themselves. Everyone who is ruled by the Holy Spirit thinks about spiritual things. If our minds are ruled by our desires, we will die. But if our minds are ruled by the Spirit, we will have life and peace. Our desires fight against God, because they do not and cannot obey God’s laws. If we follow our desires, we cannot please God. You are no longer ruled by your desires, but by God’s Spirit, who lives in you. People who don’t have the Spirit of Christ in them don’t belong to him. But Christ lives in you. So you are alive because God has accepted you, even though your bodies must die because of your sins. Yet God raised Jesus to life! God’s Spirit now lives in you, and he will raise you to life by his Spirit.” (Romans 8:5-11, CEV)
Spirit Of God Descend Upon My Heart
Spirit of God, descend upon my heart,
Wean it from earth, thro’ all its pulses move.
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art
And make me love Thee as I ought to love.
Hast Thou not bid us love Thee, God and King,
All Thine own soul heart and strength and mind?
I see Thy cross, there teach my heart to cling.
O let me seek Thee and O let me find.
Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh.
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear,
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh.
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.
Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love;
One holy passion filling all my frame.
The baptism of the heav’n descended Dove,
My heart an altar and Thy love the flame.
Frederick Cook Atkinson | George Croly © Words: Public Domain