Seattle — Day 23: True Integrity
Reflections — I must say, fighting to keep your mind centered on Jesus is one of the most difficult and challenging parts of pursuing Christ. Now I’m not talking about thinking about Jesus when you’re reading the word (Bible), praying, singing hymns, or perhaps even serving. Though it can still be incredibly difficult in more explicitly obvious Jesus seeking experiences, more often than not, its a bit easier to set your mind on Jesus when you’re doing these things. That’s because, or hopefully at least, you’ve disciplined yourself to keep your mind centered on Christ in the midst of pursuing Him in those manners; however, what I’m really talking about is the incredible task at hand at keeping your thoughts about Jesus literally every waking, and even sleeping, moment of your life.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” — 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18
Let’s read that again, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. So this is a command (John 14:15) for those who are saved (Hebrews 10:36), meaning that keeping our minds on Christ throughout the day isn’t a suggestion. It’s His will. Now there are a lot of things that the bible says that are the will of Father (don’t commit sexual immorality, pray earnestly for the lost, etc) and they’re all very valid and important things, but I want to just focus on the concept of keeping our minds centered on Jesus, by first establishing the truth that this is the will of God. In Colossians 3:2 we find that Paul addresses this to the church, saying “set your minds on things above, not on earthly things,” meaning we must set our mind on Jesus and the will of God.
Now I think one of the most challenging parts of doing this is in the every day mundane activities like taking a poop, skipping, eating a donut, breathing, checking your phone for updates, and more. I find it so difficult to constantly keep my mind on Jesus. My mind is so prone to shift and to wander to think about everything from the range of outright stupidly sinful to outright ridiculously hilarious things to outright complete adoration for Jesus. Astounding. Then there’s always the excuse of, “Oh I can’t control what I think about so there’s no point.” So the question is — how do we do it? I’ll use an example of highlight the way we must go about pursuing Jesus in our thoughts.
Consider a image of a block of cheese. Got it visualized? No? Well here, this might help.
You got the image right? Now keep thinking about the block of cheese. Might be easy for some more reflexive in thought and more difficult those that are more absent minded, so let’s add some determination. What if I told you that if there was some way to measure the activity of your brain, PET scans brain imaging or whatever, and if you could think about this block of cheese for 3 seconds, then I would give you a million dollars. Boom. Easy. You probably did it before you finished reading the sentence. The point of this experiment is to prove that you are more than capable of controlling what your mind thinks about. Now when I say this, I’m not talking about the gushing overflow of random mental muscle twitches that occur in your mind for brief seconds: Eat that burrito. Yes go give to the homeless man you see there. No, don’t study right now just play and watch Netflix. I need to fart right now. Man, I can’t believe he just cut me off, why is my toe so big? and the list goes on and on, but rather, when I say thinks about I’m referring to what your mind dwells upon. For you see, even the best of us, everyone in the world, gets these sporadic and spontaneous moments of mental activity. These mental muscle twitches as I like to call them are things like temptations, convictions, the Holy Spirit speaking to you, a random thought, a dream, etc. You don’t have control over these things, and are outside of what you are capable of dealing with as a person, since you are not all powerful, all knowing and all controlling; however, what we do have is the ability by grace to control what our minds dwell on, what our minds choose to constantly think about and set our eyes to.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” — Colossians 3:16
The problem often times is that we fail to see the value and worthiness in Christ, and therefore choose not to dwell on Him. Just think about in terms of juxtaposing the two scenarios. Scenario A: Think about cheese for three seconds and get a million dollars. Scenario B: Think about Jesus for a lifetime on Earth and you get Jesus for all eternity. Just let that sink in for a little bit. If we find more value and worth in thinking about a stupid block of cheese for 3 seconds for a million dollars, and see that as doable, then we do not understand the value of Christ and how amazing Jesus is, how wonderful being with Jesus is. A million dollars is nothing compared to Christ, and 3 seconds is nothing when you compare the span of a whole life here on earth, no matter how long, to the span of eternity in Heaven. The values just don’t equate. Infinity is always more than constants. I can’t tell you how much this has challenged me. If all Jesus calls me to is to think about Him on earth for a lifetime for an eternity with Jesus, then that’s not only doable right now with the help of the Holy Spirit, but worth it to suffer through the difficulty of it.
The greatest battle you and I will ever fight in our whole lives will be in our minds. Beyond that, the majority of all battles we will ever wage are and will be in our own minds. It’s where our true integrity is put to the test, and our true character is built. Your true inner private place isn’t even in your prayer closet, but in your own mind, because there, literally only God can be with you. It all starts from the things that we choose to allow to dwell in our minds. Will it be Jesus? or will it be simply about what I’m going to eat next for 3 hours? Heed these wise words from a Biola professor I met a while back named Clement Muwele. They’re such powerful, life changing words.
If you sow a thought, you will reap an action.
If you sow an action, you will reap a habit.
But if you sow habit, you will reap character.
And if you sow character, then you will reap a future.
To answer the question from above: so how do we do this? This is how. We set our eyes on Jesus. Christ never says to us, clear your mind, empty it of all these thoughts, and then seek me. No. He says, in the midst of all these thoughts, seek me! and fill yourself with Christ. “…fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable” (Philippians 4:8). It’s not going to come through you trying to empty your mind and “destress” using yoga, relaxation techniques, or anything like that. In order to keep your thoughts, your dwelling on Christ, you must look to Christ and fill your mind with Christ. It’s the reason why memorizing scripture is so important, starting your day with the word, and ending your day with word is so crucial. All of these things help you to remember Jesus and to fill your mind with Jesus throughout the day and the night. This is the way we combat temptation, obey the Spirit in convictions, and honor the Lord with our commitments. Remember that an idle mind is the Devil’s workshop. So do not allow yourself to get lax. Remember Jesus, fill yourself with Jesus, and ask for more of Jesus, so that in your thought, it may overcome into actions, which overflow into habits, which overflow into character, and which finally result in a Godly future. Amen.
So here’s what I ask of you. Please pray for me as I continue to strive towards this goal of making Jesus my everything. That Jesus would take preeminence in my thoughts in every single scenario, situation, circumstance, victory, trial, joy, and suffering in my life. Help join me in prayer for myself that I would be able to think, to dwell on the things of Christ, and to keep my eyes on Him. I’m learning more and more how to do this in the workplace when I have to focus on working, yet all the while keep my thoughts centered on Christ. I’m also being challenged to do let my mind run idle so that I may honor Christ with every fiber of my being, especially the mental ones. Thank you.
“The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
— Isaiah 40:28–31