“but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,”
This is an interesting verse. Let’s look at the whole verse, plus the verse that comes right before it. In my ESV bible, these two verses have their own heading. Granted, headings aren’t in the original manuscript, but the translators determined that these two verses were noteworthy.
Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 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.
Paul packs a lot in these. One could, and should, spend a great deal of time in this. Still, we should be able to stand back and get a good idea what he’s trying to say – in a nutshell. What is he trying to say?
It all boils down to what goes on between our ears. Is this brain of ours truly “on” or is it running loose all day long? I tell you, it sure amazes me where my mind will wander if I let it. I bet you’re the same way. Daydreaming has its place, but too much of it will get me in trouble.
I remember a time at my oldest daughter’s first birthday party. She was sitting on the floor by the patio door playing with her presents. Everyone was gathered around watching her. She then bent over and picked up a dead fly that was in the track of the sliding door and put it in her mouth. One swift, smooth motion, and gulp! My mother, who was sitting next to me, jumped up and stuck her finger in her granddaughter’s mouth and swept the fly out in an instant. I saw my daughter do this, too, but I sat in my chair and did nothing. Actually, nothing even registered in my mind that there was a problem. My mother had the problem solved before I even knew what was going on!
My problem wasn’t that I didn’t see it, it was that my mind was not yet trained that babies like to eat dead flies. Or maybe it was that I was trained from early childhood that it is more important to sit still when in a group of people than it is to make a fuss about anything. I’m not sure which overruled my common sense, but something did.
I guess that’s the real thing that matters – common sense. Why don’t I use more common sense? Perhaps it’s because too often I allow my mind to run without me behind the wheel. It gets me in trouble. It’s when I go long periods of time without guiding my brain that bad patterns emerge. As everyone knows, bad patterns lead to bad habits. Bad habits are very, very hard to break. One must completely “renew” his/her mind to break a bad habit, right? Right.
Do I have any bad habits? Yes.
Ok, so then this passage applies to me. How do I change the way I think? Look at these verses. It involves a lot of interaction with God, doesn’t it? I would say I first need to recognize a problem and bring it to God and ask him to show me the way. I need his help to follow his commands, right? This Christian walk isn’t about self-help. No, I have come to realize that my buckle-it-down attitude gets me nowhere. If I have a true problem with something, I need God. It’s that simple.
Father, renew my mind. Make me aware of my thought patterns and guide me. Show me what thinking is harmful and what builds me up. Encourage me to exchange the bad for good. Encourage me to talk openly about all this with others, to encourage them as well as to strengthen me. Father, Jesus says that without him, we can do nothing. I believe that to be true. I desire these things. Amen.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers