“New Year, New Me” You’ve probably seen this phrase in several places already, along with other familiar mantras that circulate every time the calendar switches from December to January. ‘Tis the season for goals and resolutions, and regardless of the details, at the root of all of them is a desire and drive to be more intentional. Whether we’re more intentional about what we eat, how often we exercise, doing a regular quiet time, or finally getting the garage cleaned out, we are setting out to make a purposeful change for the better.
One of the areas that can feel a little more challenging to be intentional about is our thought-life. We aren’t always aware of the tape that’s running through our minds at any given moment throughout the day. Or how what we consume is affecting us over time. But if we pay attention to it, and closely examine what we are setting our minds on, we might be surprised.
Colossians 3:2 urges us to “set our minds on things above, not on earthly things.” I know for me, on any given day, it’s way too easy to get distracted running a lap around the social media track, or getting sucked into the latest news headlines and forget completely to open my Bible or pause to pray. If I’m not intentional about what I’m setting my mind on, while also inviting God into my daily rhythms and setting my mind on Him, I wind up feeling spread thin and run down, with foggy thinking and no peace in sight.
It’s even more challenging when life throws us a curveball. We may find ourselves dealing with a flood of negative or anxious thoughts, struggling with insecurity, or feel stuck in a season of loneliness and despair. But when we set our minds on Christ, He is also hard at work within us to renew and transform us so that we can walk in step with Him.
Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Renewing the mind is an intentional choice that we make to align our thoughts and our spiritual perspective with the mind of God. This leads to a transformation that we cannot simply manufacture on our own. It is the love and grace of God at work in us that brings about radical change for the better in our lives.
James Bryan Smith coined a term that I love: “mind-discipleship”. So often we think of discipleship as doing– learning to follow Jesus, walking and talking as He did. But when it comes to our thought-life, it’s easy to forget that we need to be just as intentional about how we think, process, and respond inwardly to what is happening to and around us. It begins with an intentional exercise of obedience, first our obedience to God, and then making our thoughts obedient to Christ.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
In every situation, we have a chance to stop right in our tracks and choose which way we will allow our thoughts to take us. Will we see everything that is going wrong and let our minds wander to the worst case scenario? Or will we zoom out to an eternal perspective and trust that God will never forsake us and has planned ahead for our every need? Will we allow our thoughts to control us, forcing us into a defensive and reactive posture? Or will we capture our thoughts and measure them against what Jesus says is true about who He is and who we are?
It is in the light of His truth that we can turn our minds away from the tape playing over and over in our heads and focus on Jesus instead. It takes practice and we have to work at it, but the reward is fresh clarity, unrivaled peace, and incomparable joy.
Philippians 4:8 says, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
The first word in the list of things to focus on, is whatever is true. When we hold firmly to the truth about who God is and who we are in Christ, we have freedom, peace, and joy. We are transformed to be more like Christ and we are no longer shackled by insecurity or fear. We are free to love ourselves, our families, and our neighbors. We are free to step into our calling when God says go, and free to say no to the things that are not in step with the Holy Spirit’s lead. We are free to live life abundantly in the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
I want to encourage you to take some time this week to pray about any areas in your thought-life that could use some renewal and transformation. If you like, play this song and sit still in His presence. Remember that God loves you as his daughter right now. You don’t have to be perfect to come to Him. He is your safe space, your protector and friend. Be open and honest with Him and with yourself. Spend time with Him and see if there are any thoughts that look more like the world than like Christ. As you grow in the practice of “setting our minds on things above”, God will renew and restore you, and bring you wholeness and peace.
We know this isn’t always easy stuff and we’d love to pray for you too. Drop us a line at email@example.com and our prayer team will link arms with you in prayer. Together, let’s make this a year of intentionally setting our minds on Christ and being renewed in Him.