When I was a kid, there was a public service announcement on television. It encouraged people to give to scholarships for black students so they could go to black colleges and universities. At the end of the commercial was a line that I have never forgotten. It said:
“… the mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
Your mind is different from your brain. The brain is a major organ of your body. It is where consciousness, motor skills, language, perception, and intelligence originate. But the mind is different. It is where attitude, imagination, judgement, love, anger, joy, grief, and many other noncognitive actions and emotions live. In the Bible, your mind is where you make choices, develop attitudes, and form a belief system. Your mind is transcendent, emotional, and spiritual. It is where God can live, if you let Him.
Do you know the phrase,
“make up your mind?” Well, that is one of the key functions of the mind. The mind is where you sort through alternatives and make choices. And those choices are everything! They determine how your days, your years, and ultimately your life turns out. We make our choices and then our choices make us! So, your mind really is a terrible thing to waste!!
This week, I want to give you
eight choices you must make to develop a healthy mind:
1. Choose to live a Christ-centered life. When you are the center of your life, chaos erupts because your emotions, your selfishness, and your human short-sightedness guides your mind. But when you put Jesus at the center of your life, order will come because He will show you how to handle life’s challenges, your sinfulness, and the trials of life.
Philippians 2:5 (NKJV) says,
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” Make Jesus your model on how to live. If you would submit to His Lordship, the mind of Christ will direct your mind, your thoughts, your intents and your actions. The Holy Spirit will transform everything if you give Him control of your life.
Romans 12:2 says:
“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.” How is your mind transformed? When you stop following the self-centered way of the world and put Christ at the center of your life, you will find and know God’s will for your life.
Now that doesn’t mean you won’t have time when you falter and lapses into self-centered living. The world’s influence is strong and tempting. But if you keep putting Jesus back at the center of your life each time you fall, you will become more faithful in your walk with Him. Over time, you will grow in your ability to become spiritually-minded. Romans 8:5-6 say:
“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;”
2. Choose to take responsibility for your mind. When you stop blaming others for your circumstances and start making choices, you will be on the way to good mental and spiritual health. You are in charge of your mind and no one else! So, choose wisely what you put into your mind!
Today, many people are cognizant of what they put into their body. Certainly, good genes and good medical care contribute to good health. But medical science has been telling us that we need to take change of what we eat. So, people reduce gluten, animal fat, hydrogenated fat, sugar, and salt. They eat more vegetables and fruit. They consume less calories. It is a choice they make to have healthy body. But sadly, many people do not make the wise choices when it comes to their minds.
The New Testament was written in Greek. There are three voices (active, middle and passive) in Greek grammar. In Scripture, passive voice is used for things that God does for us. Active voice is reserved for actions that you and I have to take.
I know that most of you do not know Greek grammar, so you have to take my word for it. When Scripture encourages Christians to change their behavior, it is always in the active voice. That means that anger, hate, bitterness, revenge, stealing, jealousy, unforgiveness, and many other sins are in our power to change. You can’t be passive on these things. You have to actively do them yourself.
God wants you and me make changes in our life, to take responsibility for your spiritual development, and to exercise the Fruit of the Spirit. Stop waiting for God to miraculously change you because He won’t. God won’t do what you need to do for yourself.
So, don’t excuse yourself from change saying
“that’s just how I am” or
“God made me this way.” Don’t hide behind your parents, culture or traditions. Don’t let people affect your moods. Just because you had a bad day, does not give you the right to be rude or cruel to your family. Just because you had a bad childhood does not mean you have to have a bad life. That’s why you must choose to live differently.
There are many people who still behave like children when things don’t go as they would like. They resort to rudeness, name-calling, pouting, and retribution. This is childish! You have to manage your emotions too. You already have to control your bladder and your bowels. Now grow up and manage your emotions too!
So, choose take responsibility for your happiness and choose be happy! Take responsibility for your mental and spiritual health!
3. Choose to infuse your mind with Scripture. If you would read, study, memorize, and meditate on the Bible, it will fill your mind and your soul with God. Each day through His Word, God will fill your whole being with His principles, promises, precepts, and purposes. Then, as you go through the day, you can think about what you read and consider how it applies to your life.
Psalm 19:8 says:
“The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” Psalm 119:165 says:
“Great peace have they who loveYyour law, and nothing can make them stumble.”
If you will dwell on God’s Word at every opportunity, you will find peace, contentment, wisdom. So, let God’s mind take over your mind with the Scriptures, It will give you a healthy mind!
4. Choose to feed on good things. Remember the old adage:
“Garbage in, garbage out?” What you feed your mind is what your life becomes.
If you read, watch, and listen to trash, your mind will become trash. Many of us get way too much news and politics. It is one thing to be informed but quite another to be overwhelmed with acrimony and unsolvable problems. Pornography destroys good sexuality and pollutes your mind. Bad friendships can really mess up your mind and life. Alcohol is a depressant and too much of it brings hopelessness. And it doesn’t take very many episodes of Law and Order, Chicago PD, and Criminal Minds to ruin a good day!
If you want a healthy mind, embark on a new plan. Instead, have a steady diet of music, literature, and encouragement. Take walks in the park and see God’s creation. Read uplifting stories. Read great thinkers with lofty thoughts. Read books by people who walked with God. Listen to inspiring music. Find good friends who love God, like to laugh, and thrive on cheerfulness. Form a support network of people who care for each other and for you. Celebrate the goodness of God.
Philippians 4:8 says:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” So, choose to feed your mind on good things!
5. Choose to live with optimism and faith. I have learned that happiness is a choice. Happy people do not have the best of circumstances. Happy people make the best of the circumstances they have. It takes about the same amount of effort to be unhappy, or happy so you might as well choose to be happy!
In 1943, Dr. David H. Fink, a psychiatrist for the Veterans Administration, wrote an article for Coronet Magazine, entitled, “Release from Nervous Tension.” In his article, he wrote about his research into the causes of mental and emotional disturbances. After studying over 10,000 people he found that there was a common trait with all his patients who suffered from severe tension. They were habitual fault-finders, constant critics of people and of things around them. Those who were free from tension, were the least critical. Dr, Fink concluded the habit of fault-finding is a prelude and may be an attribute of the mentally unbalanced. Those who wish to retain good emotional and mental health, should learn to free themselves from a negative and critical attitude.
So, resist pessimism and gloom! Don’t gossip or bad mouth others. Look for the good in the world and in others. Don’t be critical. Be an encourager to others. Be positive!
Abraham Lincoln once said: “
You are as happy as you choose to be.” So, choose to happy, positive, and encouraging. Smile at the future because God has that covered. Psalm 98:1 says:
“Sing to the LORD a new song” so start singing a new tune!
6. Choose to remove sin from your life. Proverbs (20:9) asks: “
Who can say, ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin’ "? Of course, the answer is nobody! So, all of us have sin that needs to be confessed and then moved to repentance.
I have been a Christian for 64 years, in the ministry for 51 years and I have been pastor’s son for 71 years. So, when I tell you something about Christians, faith, and walking with God, I have some knowledge. Here is a sad but important fact I have learned: Troubled people always have unconfessed sin and may be still in it. This is reason that their lives, careers, marriages, health, relationships, kids, and other things are in disarray. Like a splinter that infects and festers, unconfessed and continued sin will destroy everything. Bitterness, anger, jealousy, insecurities, guilt, and a calloused heart will follow. Then, over time, sin will ruin your life.
Proverbs 28:13 says: “
He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” If your mind is troubled, now is the time to seek God’s forgiveness, confess, repent, and find a healthy mind!
7. Choose to control your thoughts. Proverbs (23:7) tell us
“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” One of the most important things you must do for a healthy mind is to get control of your thoughts.
So, that means you have to screen your thoughts. Check your attitudes, motives, and thinking. If those things do not measure up to God’s standard, stop thinking about it and reject any further consideration of it. But if those things honor God and His Word, then let your mind dwell on them.
A man who went to see his doctor about an ache he got when he did deep knee bends. He asked the doctor,
“How can I stop the aching?” The doctor said
“Don’t do them!”
Well, that is great advice! Stop thinking destructive thoughts! Don’t waste your thoughts on things that are unproductive, futile, worthless, and false. Remember what Jesus said:
“For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly” (Mark 7:21-22). These toxins come from our sinful human nature. Close your mind to these things. Then, move from toxic thoughts to God-thoughts.
2 Corinthians 10:5 gives us great advice when it says
: “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Do that throughout the day and you will be on the way to a very healthy mind.
8. Choose to live a life of gratitude. I have studied the life of David for many years now. He may have been the unluckiest man in the Bible. He was harassed and hunted by King Saul and had to hide in caves for 13 years. His wife, Michal, was hostile to him and was taken from him. He was constantly in numerous wars with hand-to-hand combat. His son, Absalom, overthrew David’s throne. His daughter was raped and two sons were murdered. His life was a parade of problems and catastrophes. How did David cope? He used gratitude and praise to God! Just the phrase
“Give thanks to the Lord” appears numerous times in the Psalms. Praise is in just about every psalm of David. It is how David kept his mind healthy.
Dr. Robert A. Emmons and his team at the University of California in Davis have been involved in what they call the “Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness.” It is funded by the John Templeton Foundation. They have found that empirical evidence showing that gratitude has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others. Gratitude will keep you positive, contented, and improve your physical health. Science is finding that gratitude is good!
Centuries ago, Psalm 147:1 said:
Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise Him! Gratitude will give you a healthy mind! Thank God for your spiritual inheritance. Be grateful for His material blessings. Give thanks for everything. Praise Him for all He has done for your!
Well, that’s my letter for this week. I hope you will start thinking and working on these components to a healthy mind. In these troubled times, this topic is very important. And remember, what God says in Isaiah 26:
“(God) keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” 1 Corinthians. 2:16 says:
"you have the mind of Christ." So, keep your mind on Him!
I love being your pastor!
Pastor Mark Platt