“Do not conform 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 NIV
Your mind… your brain… your thought process…
One of the truths of the universe is, at all times, everything is either growing or dying. This is also true of our minds. Why is it that some people go great distances in life while others never seem to get “off the front porch?”
I recently read some startling statistics:
* 33% of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
* 42% of college graduates never read another book after college.
* 80% of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
* If you read one hour per day in a chosen field, in 7 years, you will be an international expert.
In today’s day and age, we live in a world driven by the media and find that it’s the media that drives our ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, moral and amoral. The world is creating within us an internal struggle for our minds.
The world would have us live in fear and confusion and lies to us telling us that “it’s right as long as it feels good.” The world also tells us that we are entitled and deserving… “there’s no such thing as right or wrong, only what’s right for me and how I see things.” Many of us fall into this trap because we spend life in a state of dying, not a state of growing.
Look at the statistics above, one of the most startling realizations I came to is a college graduate is LESS likely to ever read again.
Conform – To behave according to socially acceptable conventions or standards
The Bible tells us first to not conform. Just because the world around you says it’s ok, the apostle Paul says wait a minute, let’s test this. Just because society accepts it, does that make it right? Just because we have gotten used to seeing something does that make it wholesome? Will it spiritually grow us or is it spiritually killing us?
Pattern – A repeated design
Paul is telling us that the world will try to get to us through repetition. Haven’t we heard before that repetition is the “mother of all learning?” Just as God knows there are certain things we need to do daily to grow, the devil also knows that by repeating certain patterns and ideas over and over in front of us, we learn to accept them.
How do we combat this?
The scripture tells us to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Transform – To undergo a change in form, appearance or character
Change… Isn’t it interesting that the world teaches us to fear change? For most people, change is on their list of top 5 fears. But there is no such thing as growth without change. Paul said, “be transformed.” We’re supposed to welcome change and embrace it. We are supposed to be agents of change.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Ghandi
In order to change the world, we must first start with transforming ourselves.
Renewing – To begin again; recover; revive; to restore or replenish
It doesn’t matter where you started or where you are, you can renew your mind. We have to bring to life the thoughts, ideas and mindsets God has said are best for us. We have to put to death the ways of the world that go against God’s Word.
I love that Paul used the concept of renewing. No matter how many times I’ve messed up, I can renew. God gives us the spiritual reset button that is our salvation. He says, “I know you’ve messed up in the past, but that’s ok. I still love you. I know you’re going to mess up in the future and I will still be here, loving you.”
The biggest challenge for most of this is that being transformed by renewing your mind is active, not passive. You have to do something in order to be something. And God is telling us that it all starts with our mind.
The law of sowing and reaping says that whatever you put in, you will get out exponentially more. Are you putting negative things into your mind? If so, the harvest will be negativity. Conversely, if you put positive things into your mind, the harvest will be positivity. Have you ever met that person that can brighten a room by leaving it?
How do you transform and renew your mind?
1. The Word – Spend time daily reading your Bible. God’s Word is designed to transform us, to renew us and replenish us. One challenge I often hear is “I don’t understand it.” The Bible is not a book that you need to read cover to cover. Start with a scripture or two. Ask friends and family where a good place to start would be. The point is to get some scripture daily. The more of it you put into your mind, the more will make sense. As you continue to read, you will understand more and more. You will find that both your mind and your world will begin to change because of it.
2. Prayer – We are built as relational beings. We were built to first have a relationship with God, then relationship with others. Prayer is something that is often looked at as something that is hard and needs to include “thee, thou and thither.” I laugh to myself when I think about how the world has confused us with this. The world tries to make it seem overwhelming so we won’t do it. Prayer is simply a conversation with God. It’s no different from any other conversation you have with anyone else. God, your Father, wants to have conversations with you like an earthly father would. It can be as simple as “Hey God, how are you? Let me tell you about my day…” Talk to Him. Ask for what you want and need. Jesus said “you don’t receive because you haven’t asked.” When my girls get interested in talking to me, it makes my day. I love hearing about what’s going on with them and how I can help them in their lives. Why would God, the Father of everything be any different?
3. Community – We were built to have relationship with God, but He also said, “it’s not good for man to be alone.” Life is built in the context of relationships with others. The people you spend your time with will either make you or break you. What kinds of relationships are you building – live-giving or life-draining? I once heard someone say that we become the average of the people we spend the most time with. I have watched this become true over and over again. I have watched good people destroyed by spending too much time with the wrong crowd. How selective are you in your relationships? Spend time with building relationships. Look for people who will complement your strengths and will be able to see your weaknesses. We’re all in this together. That also means that sometimes you have to let go of relationships that aren’t healthy. Don’t be afraid of letting those relationships go. That’s God trying to make room in your life for better ones that will build you up.
Trust God, read His Word, talk to Him and let Him bring life-giving relationships to you. Your world will be transformed and renewed and your mind will never be the same.