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You probably recall the moment in celluloid history when the Scarecrow realized that he was no longer among the intellectally challenged as the Wizard conferred upon him the “Doctor of Thinkology.” All of his hopes, dreams, and aspirations converged in this climactic moment and he could not restrain himself as he proved to the world that he had a brain. He pointed to his temple and heralded,”the sum of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the remaining sides. Oh, joy…rapture, I have a brain.” Like so many others, the Scarecrow beleived that intellect is tied to knowledge of facts, however, I would appreciate a sequal to the Wizard (instead of the recent prequel) where we see exactly how the Scarecrow used his new-found brain. I wonder–did he ever make practical use of all of that knowledge? If so, then how was that manifested? The point I want to make is that God certainly wants us to use our minds but for far more than the attaining of facts.
The first post in this series set the table for these subsequent posts that investigate Bible passages that express God’s desire for people to pay special attention to the brain because how one thinks has a direct inflluence on how one acts. No passage in the Bible more clearly defines this connection than Ephesians 4:17-32. This passage is no stranger to the Biblical Counselor’s methodology but I want to address how the mind effects behavior. I will give three observations from this passage that will force one to consider how one thinks!
Observation #1: Paul is indeed emphasizing the cognitive aspect of the human constitution. There are many terms in the opening section (17-24) that refer to exercises o fthe brain: “mind(2xs),” “understanding,” “ignorance,” learned,” and “taught” (NKJV). This first observation is simply to prove the point that the mind is in Paul’s view and is indeed the seat of the put off/put on concept of spiritual growth.
Observation #2: Poor behavior stems from poor thinking. This is the clear point from vv.17-19; lewd, unclean behavior is the direct result of how someone thinks. I see this play out regularly in individuals today because one’s standard for what is right or wrong is tied to what one thinks about right and wrong. One might be prone to think that a particular behavior is fine but fail to see it from God’s POV; however, one would be wise to consider God’s thoughts on any given topic as the next observation suggests.
Observation #3: Good behavior stems from Godly thinking. This is the clear point from vv. 20-24. One needs to think like Jesus (20) in order to behave like Jesus, which is defined as righteous and holy (24). Jesus, of course being the ultimate standard of what is ideal behavior. Therefore, when someone begins to think like Jesus, he can begin to act like Him!
Granted, changing one’s behavior is complicated at times but there is tremendous hope for the one who grasps this basic concept that genuine change begins by renewing the mind from what you once thought was true to what Jesus taught that was precicely true. Jesus provides a fixed goal for change! You too can earn a genuine “Doctor of Thinkology” by grasping the truths of Scripture that will lead to a changed life!
Choose your pop culture slogan: “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” or “Get, get, get,-get your head in the game.” Whichever you choose will not only reveal your age but you will come away with the notion that the brain is an important part of your existence. As these slogans suggest, you engage your brain regularly whether you are at work or play. What has been nagging at my brain lately is whether or not we fully engage our minds in our spiritual journey. As a Pastor and Biblical Counselor, I observe that believers are sometimes quick to disengage the mind while applying full throttle to his feelings when it applies to his walk with God.
This blog is the first in a four-part series that will encourage counselors and counselees to make the brain an important part of one’s spiritual growth formation. For this blog, I simply want to give 3 reasons why the need for this mini-series is a “no-brainer.”
1. The role of the mind in biblical counseling writing needs to be emphasized.
The Biblical Counselor will notice a heavy emphasis in the movement’s literature on the concept of the “Idols of the Heart.” Of course I use this biblical concept regularly and appreciate the vast amount of literature that speaks to the counselee’s need to cultivate the heart. With that said, I can’t help but notice that the emphasis of the idols concept has left the “Arena of the Mind” in it’s wake. Aside from aforementioned book and some seminars, the mind in biblical counseling writing is a topic largely ignored and therefore, ripe for discussion. I hope that this series of posts stimulates some quality writing on the biblical concept of the mind in spiritual formation , which will have a direct and significant bearing in the counseling room.
2. The role of the mind in biblical counseling practice needs to be emphasized.
Anger, lust, depression, addictions…many problems in life can surface as the result of someone yielding solely to his feelings. I’ve heard a wise maxim that said, “You can’t begin to act like Jesus until you think like Jesus.” I think that there is a lot of biblical merit to that. Jesus always chose to do the will of the Father, whether he felt like it or not. He engaged His mind to obey the Father on the night before His death because He certainly didn’t feel like it. His actions followed His thinking, not His feelings. Counselees can learn a lot from Jesus’ use of His mind in making important, God-pleasing decisions. I ask that counselors be sure to consider the mind along with a strategy for dissecting the idols of the heart.
3. The Bible speaks often about the mind in spiritual growth.
I want to leave this post with this final point that simply serves as an introduction to the remaining three parts of this series. Indeed the Bible speaks to the Idols of the Heart concept but my goal here is to remind biblical counselors of the significant amount of biblical data regarding the mind in one’s walk with the Lord. I trust that I am not alone in some of these observations and hope you find this series profitable…all for the glory of our great God!