Devotions

What You THINK vs. What You DO

January 16, 2019
“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6 (ESV)

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Recently I lay down in bed, happy for the chance to relax and rest, but my runaway thoughts were full of anxiety.

I stretched out and got comfortable, only to find my mind running in circles. I began worrying about a needed conversation. Next, I ran down a list of items to accomplish the next day. Then I remembered something I needed to purchase, and I thought about what I’d forgotten to accomplish that day.

I quickly realized I wasn’t relaxed at all.

Would that conversation go well? Would I accomplish all I needed to the next day? Would those things I forgot to do today bring me trouble? My anxious thoughts almost pushed me out of bed to work, even though I knew I needed rest. (Psalm 127:2)

It’s no accident Jesus commands us to love God with our heart, soul and mind. I know most of my sin originates in my mind, from what I think, and a lot of it stays there.

I imagine that’s true for most of us.

We know how to act, and there are things we likely wouldn’t do just for fear of what others might think. But our minds are another story. No one sees what we’re thinking — at least, that’s the lie we tell ourselves. We can have vengeful, angry thoughts; we can lust; we can be anxious; we can judge others — all within the confines of our mind. We don’t have to say a word or make a move to sin.

God knows every hair on our heads — and what’s inside our heads, too. He knows we need not only transformed actions but also transformed thoughts.

In today’s key verse, Paul warns that the mind set on the flesh leads to death: “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). This is because a mind set on the flesh is a mind set on sin. It’s not thinking about the things of God — it’s not thinking about God at all!

During a particularly hard season of my life, I faced conflict with a friend, and I wasn’t sure how I would work it out. I was nervous about future conversations, so I began visualizing how one might go. Within seconds, I imagined how I might stick it to her with a sharp reply. My mind created a scenario that hadn’t happened and — by the grace of God — wouldn’t happen. But just imagining that scene led to a physical response. My heart sped up. My breathing became heavier. I was ready for a fight. Yikes!

That’s what happens when we let human tendencies rule how we think. The result is worry, fear and conflict — especially if we let our thoughts dictate our actions.

In contrast, setting the mind on the Spirit leads to life and peace. As Isaiah wrote, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).

Had my mind been set on the Spirit during that difficult time, I would have responded differently. Hopefully withheld judgment. Probably resisted imagining a comeback. And I would have ultimately loved my sister in my mind and heart and been able to live in peace.

Let’s train our minds, as God through Paul instructs, to think on what’s true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8) The mind focused on the Spirit is fixated on good and holy things. And the Spirit-focused mind knows when to take those worrisome thoughts to the Lord and submit them there.

Let’s ask God to fix our eyes and mind on the good and perfect One.

Lord, when You saved me, You renewed all of me including my mind. I confess, there are times when I struggle to think true, pure and lovely thoughts. Thank You for the promise to finish the good work You began. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY

Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (ESV)

RELATED RESOURCES

Although we know in our head God is for us, sometimes that can be hard to believe. Trillia Newbell walks you through Romans 8 and helps cement powerful truth deep inside yourself in her new devotional Bible study, If God Is For Us: The Everlasting Truth of Our Great Salvation. Pick up your copy here.

CONNECT

Learn more about Trillia at TrilliaNewbell.com. Or connect with her via her Facebook author page, Twitter, or Instagram, via @trillianewbell.

Enter to WIN a copy of If God Is For Us. In celebration of this book, Trillia’s publisher is giving away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here in our comments section. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and notify them in the comments section to each one, by Monday, January 21.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND

Think of a time when you’ve felt particularly anxious about something. Where did that anxiety originate?

What kinds of circumstances tend to pull your thinking in fleshly directions? What are some practical ways you might fight that tendency and actively set your mind on the Spirit?

© 2019 by Trillia Newbell. All rights reserved.

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