I beseech you, therefore, brethren, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may prove that good and perfect will of God. (Romans 12: 1-2)
The apostle Paul shared a secret about life change with the Romans. He told them that the way to “be being transformed” (actual verb tense) was by the renewing of your mind.” In other words, as we discussed last week, your thoughts hold the front line of the battle. The way you think gives rise to your attitudes and your actions.
The problem is, many of our negative and destructive thoughts are so habitual that they are out of our conscious awareness. You know how it is with a habit. Let’s take brushing your teeth or putting on your clothes. You don’t consciously think about each tiny step; you just do it. The process is there, embedded in your thinking because it has been repeated so many times it has gone underground.
The same is true with most negative, peace-stealing thoughts. You’ve learned to think the way you do, sometimes through the negative voices of others, sometimes through traumatic life experiences, sometimes simply by natural inclination. In any case, they have often been with you so long, they are automatic. Further, you take for granted that they are credible, for you’ve lived with them as “your reality” for many years.
The “danger” you perceive all around you may have even been real at one time, but this is another time and place. When you superimpose on the present the “rules of the game” from a negative past, you rob yourself of a positive future.
The process of becoming and of growing into the potential that God has placed in you requires that you bring into the light those negative thoughts that steal your effectiveness and your joy in life. Satan’s work thrives in the dark.
So the first step in renewing your mind is to actively tune in to what you are telling yourself. Though your negative thoughts have been silent killers operating clandestine, you can expose them. You can hear them if you intentionally listen.
When you “feel bad,” let this be a cue to listen and to record. Pretend that you are clicking a recorder button in your brain, hear what you are saying to yourself about any situation or person in your life, and write it down. Yes, write it. Don’t even try to change it yet. Just keep a few days of records.
Nest, go back and read what you’ve written about your thoughts after they have “gotten cold.” Look at them in black and white and observe your patterns. What are you habitually telling yourself, and (this is IMPORTANT!) compare that to what God says about you, your situation, and His faithfulness and provision for you.
Your mind instructs your actions. Be sure that the calls to action heralded by your thoughts are leading you to a life worth living. Test the thoughts you uncover by the following criteria to determine their source: are they from your spiritual enemy, or are they from God?
The thief (Satan) comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I (Christ) have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10: 10)
If a thought habit steals your peace, kills your effectiveness, and destroys your hope – it is definitely not from God. You have the divinely-bestowed power to say a resounding “NO!” to those thoughts and to receive and focus on the thoughts of hope, love, and freedom that lead you to success, God’s way.
The old admonition for safely crossing the street, “Stop, look, and listen,” is not bad advice. Stop, look at the results you are getting, then tune in to the thoughts that are driving those results. If you are not getting the performance you want, put some better fuel in the tank!
Lord, I want my thoughts to be aligned with Your thoughts about me, my life situations, the people I encounter, and my future. Renew my mind, O God, as I study Your Word.