I find that there are many things I can easily resist in this world.
I can say no to telemarketers!
I can resist yelling at my kids in public!
I can easily ignore unsigned letters of complaint or criticism!
But I find it harder to resist being critical or negative. I struggle with being too self-congratulatory or too self-effacing. It is a constant battle to overcome cynicism or sarcasm.
And yet God calls us to “…be transformed by the renewing of our minds…”(Romans 12:2)
How does that happen?
Renewing our minds starts with surrendering ourselves to God consciously and continually.
The first step in overcoming negative attitudes is to surrender ourselves to God.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship."(Romans 12:1)
We are renewed through passionately resisting all that is harmful.
Paul continues, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world…”
Paul uses a very strong tone here. It could be translated “Stop being shaped by the world around you,” or,“Refuse to be squeezed into the mold our culture is pressing on you from all sides.”
If God tells us to do something, that means He is giving us the power and the tools to do it.
So, if we must not only surrender to God but also resist the cultural attitudes that swirl around us all day long, how do we do this?
1. Resisting involves recognizing that the world’s patterns are harmful.
What does sarcasm lead to?
Where does cynicism take us?
How does pessimism help us?
Where does narcissism drive us?
What does skepticism rob from us?
How does suspicion support us?
The Bible is pretty clear about the end result of these harmful attitudes. “The mind governed by the flesh isdeath, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace”. (Romans 8:6 NIV)
2. Resisting involves replacing bad with better.
The word transformed can be translated “form, habit”.
Just as Jesus was transfigured before his disciples from better to best (Matthew 17:2), we too can be transformed by replacing bad habits with better ones.
What bad habits are messing with your mind?
Are you controlling what comes into you or are you being controlled by what you allow in your life?
3. Resisting involves refocusing our gaze on Jesus.
We will become what we focus on!
Paul writes, “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.” (II Corinthians 3:18)
The longer we honestly and humbly focus our lives on Jesus the more we will become like him.
The renewing of our minds comes from surrendering to what is right and resisting what is wrong.
Question: What could you do today to improve your gaze upon Jesus?