Tag Archives: Christ

You are what you think about

31 Oct

Western 1st-world focus tends to highlight what we look like. So care of our bodies is emphasized.  Ever since French philosophe Brillat-Savarin wrote ‘Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es’, food industries and diet products and plans have promoted the truth that ‘we are what we eat’.  That probably is true when it comes to our physical bodies.

But God has created this version of our bodies to last a century or less.  A blink of an eye when considering eternity.

This morning I read an article written by Lee Webb for the September 2018 issue of Tabletalk magazine where he proposes a more important version of that aphorism:

  • You are what you think

Webb cited the godly man in Psalm 1 who thinks about and ENJOYS his meditation on God’s Word.  In fact, this man loves these reflections SO much, that he continues to think about the true accounts and promises of God all his waking hours.

As a logical gal, for sure I value thinking and reasoning.  And I spend a lot of time reading, journaling and discussing ideas with Mike. Maybe more than some of my friends who devote hours to crafts, gardening, taking care of and teaching small children, tending sick or aging family, working long hours or two jobs to make ends meet, or other activities.

Yet even as a self-professed THINKER…..I allow my musings to focus too much on the physical, the temporary.  I admit that I DAILY allot a portion of my mental resources:

  • to  ‘eating Keto’ and how my stomach feels
  • to fantasizing about other ministries than what God has assigned me this day
  • to judging others and their choices regarding time
  • and on some days….to wallowing in self-pity and discouragement

Being aware of this wasteful use of my thought life is not something new.  I’ve realized this poor stewardship for a while.

But God!

Here’s the good news, fellow logical thinkers.  God does not leave His children to battle sin alone.  He commands us in His Word to ask for divine help.

Paul models this kind of prayer in his second encouraging letter to believers in Thessalonica.  He writes in 2 Thess 3:5:

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

I LOVE words.  As a logical Jane, I always start with understanding and parsing a term. Here’s what’s cool about the Greek word ‘heart’. It signifies:

  • thoughts and feelings of the MIND
  • affections
  • purposes
  • endeavors
  • ideas

So, Maria’s translation of 2 Thess 3:5 is:  May the Lord direct and guide your thoughts to the love that God has shown (in redeeming and forgiving you, in giving you Christ’s righteousness and in promising present provision and constant company topped off with future abundant forever joy) and to the persevering and guaranteed steadfastness by/of Christ at the cross and presently as your Intercessor and Advocate.

Those thoughts, my friend, ARE more than sufficient for every waking hour.

And if Paul is correct in communicating God’s truth to us, then 2 Cor 3:18 is also a fact, that is:  we become what we behold…in our thoughts.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

It really does matter, eternally, what we think about.

Logic tools employed in real life

10 Feb

Fresh insights and knowledge for the grabbing!

Pick ax

The laws of logic direct our thinking and warn us of pitfalls to faulty reasoning.

But the ASSUMPTION is that one is willing actually to think. And that takes effort.

Reading a passage in the New Testament reminded me of the exhortation Paul gives to ‘think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.  2 Timothy 2:7

The tricky verse that challenged me to apply some careful reasoning finds itself in the middle of a passage from John’s letter, 1 John 5: 1-5. It says:

  1. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. 5. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Whew! There is a lot in those 5 verses but I want to linger and look at verse 3 (in red). Let’s park a while.

Parking

It pays to spend time looking at the words and actually SEEING what they communicate. Firstly I noticed,

  • God’s love = either the love that COMES from God (that He gives) or the love that is part of His nature, that is what I would call ‘God-like love’

Then I asked myself,

  • Which comes first – this love FROM/OF God or that we keep His commandments?

To answer that I went back and started with verse 1. Restating or distilling John’s thoughts, I jotted down some premises,

P1 – All people who believe that Jesus is the Christ are people who have been born of God. (also called ‘children of God’ in verse 2)

P2 – All people who love the Father are people who love the children of God.

P3 – All those who love the children of God are people who love God and obey (also phrased as ‘keep’) his commandments.

P4 – All love for/of/from God is the obeying God’s commands

P5 – No commands of God are burdensome (heavy or grievous in the Greek)

P6 – All people who have been born of God are people who overcome the world

(overcome in Greek = to prevail, get the victory, conquer)

P7 – All world-overcoming victory is our faith

(victory in Greek = means of success, of prevailing)

P8 – All people who believe that Jesus is the Son of God are people who overcome the world

Looking at P6 and P8 and relying on the Transitive Property of Equality whereby:

If A = B and B = C, then A = C

I think I can safely equate: All people who have been born of God with

All people who believe that Jesus is Son of God

And also with the first part of P1: All those who believe that Jesus is the Christ

 Going back over these verses, I got stuck on this question:

What causes us to love the Father?

It seems that the Apostle John ASSUMES that all those who believe that Jesus is the Christ/Jesus is the Son of God are ABLE to love both the Father AND other children of God.

What could be underlying that assumption? Looking down at P7, which states that faith is the key to overcome the world, it seems that when one is born of God, one is equipped with faith. Where do I get that?

Here’s P1 again:

P1 – All people who believe that Jesus is the Christ are people who have been born of God.

Look at the verbs I’ve underlined. The tenses are different. It’s clear that ‘being born of God’ comes first. And those who are born of God now can believe, that is they ‘have faith’.

And this ‘faith’ enables them to prevail against the world.

What goes along with ‘having faith’ then seems to imply one can obey or keep God’s commands, to include the VERY IMPORTANT directive to love others in the same family of God. And loving one’s siblings in God’s family = loving God.

**

Okay, so maybe I lost you in all that. But here is what I, Maria, gain from thinking through and wrestling with these verses in an orderly fashion, applying logical clear thinking:

Jesus said that the most important commands were

  1. Love God
  2. Love Others

Knowing me by nature, I can’t ‘gin’ up that kind of love on my own, based on my human nature.

What is reassuring is that knowing that I DO in fact believe that Jesus is God’s son guarantees that I have been born of God and that I am now equipped (it was a gift) with powerful faith that allows me to prevail over the lure of the world which preaches messages like:

  • You only live once, so carpe diem!
  • Complete your bucket list.
  • Pursue your passion
  • You deserve it

And instead of putting MY interests first, with the God’s gifts of strength and desire, I can love others, starting with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Without the faith that came as a gift, then I am sucked into that worldly, self-centered rat race.

I find this VERY good news.