Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2 ESV)
I often joke about needing an “upgrade” because I do not have enough memory in my brain to remember everything. Sometimes I feel like I need to free up space by purging trivial knowledge and unfavorable memories in my memory bank. Like a computer, a hard reboot would help me store only essential knowledge and nothing more.
Don’t you find it fascinating that God designed our brains to store massive amounts of data? It is a complex organ interconnected with a network of cells, vessels, and nerves that take in nutrients and chemicals to maintain its health and function, and somehow those combined activities give us the ability to think, speak, and recall information.
Now what gets stored in our minds is what Paul is concerned about because he knows that it can be corrupted by evil. Words and perceptions get twisted by dark forces to keep us from the knowledge of God and his blessings. A common quote from Charles Spurgeon says, “Consider how precious a soul must be, when both God and the devil are after it.” And thus, our spirituality begins with a battle for our minds.
Having a sound mind is a gift to us, and we must diligently care for it because it affects our cognitive and emotional well-being. If James wrote that true religion involves keeping ourselves “unstained from this world,” then he also is exhorting us to be mindful about we focus on and give into. So how does someone do this in an applicative way? Here are some practices that have worked for me:
1. Read and study the Bible. If you want to know the will of God, you must familiarize yourself with his word because everything he wants us to know for the time being is written in that book. He never contradicts it and he keeps his promises.
2. Keep your sin list short and receive his forgiveness daily. Confessing to God is always a good prayer because you understand your position and agree with his commandments. He will never withhold forgiveness from you, and so you must prepare to receive it. And when you do, let go of the guilt that you are hanging on to. Nothing is more paralyzing than being stuck in the mud of guilt. God forgives you. Now get up and carry on!
3. Limit your media intake. The news and entertainment industry have repetitive patterns, which is concerning. It’s as if we are being brainwashed without recognizing it. Their goal is to keep you glued to their programming so they can sell something to you, usually an idea, product, or service. A lot of it is bad, but not all of it. Stay informed, but don’t conform without first “fact-checking” with the Lord. The last thing you want to do is set yourself up with more corruption.
4. Keep a good sense of humor and be on the lookout for joy in the routines of your day. Now I am not saying that you should fake joyfulness. When you are having a bad day, then vent and let the bad air out. But don’t let a bad day discourage you. You can learn from it and make adjustments. And when you need a break, go find positive people hang with or immerse yourself in healthy activities that help brighten your mood.
5. Be grateful for what you have. Expressing gratitude goes a long way because there is someone in this world that dreams about having your life. Also, it helps you realize how much your heavenly Father has given you: health, a job, a home, food, friends, family, etc. Often times I say, “Wow! I am thankful to have this _____.” Or, “I can’t believe I am being paid to do that!” “Today I get to do ______.” These are all expressions of gratitude, and the Lord loves it when I give him the credit.
Think about what works for you and how you can renew your mind. Remember, the goal is to maintain a fresh perspective on what the will of the Lord is for today and tomorrow.