In Ephesians, Paul tells us we need to renew our minds; be more Christ-like. We need to bring our thoughts into alignment with His. The NIV Bible version says, “… to be made in the new attitude of your minds.” Eph. 4:23. Renew my mind? Absolutely. It’s not presented by Paul as an option. How? What does it look like?
I’ve known the truth of this passage for about five years now. In my recovery journey God showed me this truth. Neuroscience has finally caught up and “proven God, through Paul, right.” It is literally, physically possible to renew our minds. We can create new pathways of thought. We can exit the highway to hell and think more, be more, like Jesus.
Let me share a story I was told about six months ago:
This man was asked by his wife to go Christmas shopping with her for the afternoon. He didn’t want to go. He told me, “First, it’s a little shopping. Then the list inexplicably gets longer as we shop, instead of shorter. It always takes longer than it should.”
He admitted he didn’t want to go. He had things on his mind – business stuff. “Things.” He had his own list to accomplish. Plus, he simply didn’t want to go. But he went. Initially, he didn’t have a great time; not even a good time. It was turning out exactly as he imagined. But somewhere in the “ordeal” he had an attitude change. An epiphany of sorts: spending time with his wife was a pleasant experience and he enjoyed himself.
This story rattled around in the recesses of my brain until, ironically enough, I was grocery shopping with Lynn the next evening. While driving home, I was telling her about this story and I had an epiphany of my own. The Holy Spirit lightbulb illuminated my thoughts and He highlighted one word: attitude. So, I went to my Bible app and looked it up. The NIV version says, “… to be made new in the attitude of your minds;” The exact word Holy Spirit dropped on me.
When we humans come to Jesus, we’re toting an enormous bag of ‘self’. For an addict, there are indicators (porn, adultery, habitual sexual sin) of his/her love of self. We as mentors, pastors, counselors, therapists, et al, jump on those indicators and focus on stopping the unwanted behaviors. And we should. But too often we focus on the macro and miss the micro, the subtleties. We miss the attitude that helps our feet rest firmly on the solid rock of freedom. We miss Love. True. Sacrificial. Love.
As I drove home from the grocery store that evening, I was struck by how totally in love I am with Lynn. The trip was rushed. It was chaotic. The place was packed so we had to park somewhere we don’t usually park which meant we started at the wrong end of the store so we were disorganized. WHO KNEW THAT WAS EVEN A THING? The shelves were empty. It was totally frustrating. Grocery shopping rarely rates high on either of our lists of fun things to do but this trip was setting the record for an all-time low. That’s when I made the connection between my friend’s story and Holy Spirit’s prompting. As mundane & frustrating as it was, I was with the one person in all the universe I most wanted to be with, to spend time with. That’s a win – even in the mundane.
I say I love Lynn. Since that’s true, what could possibly be so blasted important in my selfish, ego-centric, limbic powered life that makes me not want to spend every minute possible with my Beloved, my best friend, my wife? Attitude.
When you have the opportunity to spend time with your Beloved, even in the mundane, take Paul’s admonition and check your attitude. Renew the attitude of your mind. Tell your limbic system to take a hike. Start the rewiring process. Put your “self” on hold and focus on your Beloved for a change. Rewire. Renew. Restart. I think you’re going to like it. I sure do.
Freedom is a gift from God. It is also His Promise; and He ALWAYS keeps His Promises.