One of the great challenges facing Christians is not necessarily what they believe, but how they live.
Healthy Minds, Healthy Christians
By Mark A. Finley
Our thoughts often govern our behavior. We regularly act out what we think. Our actions and attitudes are deeply affected by our thought patterns. Positive, Christ-centered thoughts lead to positive, Christ-centered actions. Healthy minds produce healthy Christians; unhealthy minds result in unhealthy Christians. In this month’s lesson we will study how to develop healthy thought patterns as the motivating force for Christ-like actions.
1. What admonition did the apostle Paul give the believers in Philippi?
Read Philippians 2:5.
2. According to Philippians 2:6-8, what is the mind of Christ?
The “mind of Christ” is the unselfish spirit of self-sacrificing love. Christ’s mind is revealed in His humble birth, His compassionate ministry, and His atoning death on the cross for our sins.
Jesus’ words in Matthew’s Gospel state it well: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). Lucifer desired to dominate. Christ desired to serve. Lucifer wanted the highest position to satisfy his ego. Christ chose the lowest position to redeem us. The mind of Christ is the mind of self-sacrificial service for others.
3. How can we develop the self-sacrificing spirit of Christ? How can our thought patterns be changed to reflect the mind of Christ? Compare 2 Corinthians 3:18 with Colossians 3:1-3.
When we behold Christ in His Word, our thoughts will reflect His mind. We gradually and imperceptibly change to that upon which we allow our minds to dwell. Ellen White wrote: “It is a law of the mind that it gradually adapts itself to the subjects upon which it is trained to dwell” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 598).
To the ancient Hebrews, the heart was the seat of affections and thoughts. Solomon admonishes us to guard our hearts—our minds—well, because that is where the issues of our lives are determined.4. Why is it so vitally important to guard our thoughts? Read Proverbs 4:23.
5. What practical instruction did Paul give the church at Philippi regarding protecting our minds from the bombardment of secular, worldly influences?
Read Philippians 4:7, 8 and make a list of the specific things the apostle says to think about, so as to produce healthy thought patterns.
6. In his letter to the believers in Rome Paul discussed two possibilities for the mind of Christians?
What are these two totally different alternatives? Read Romans 12:2 to discover the answer.
Each day we are either being conformed to this world or transformed by the grace of Christ. The Holy Spirit longs to renew our minds through the power of the gospel so we can reflect the love of Jesus in our daily lives.
7. How can we deal with deeply ingrained thought patterns that seem to entangle us in faulty thinking?
Compare James 4:7, 8 with 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5.
As we daily submit our thoughts to God, the Holy Spirit works within us to create new thought patterns. As old, negative, self-centered thoughts rush into our minds we resist in the power of Christ, “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). It is sometimes a great struggle to think the thoughts of heaven. But by God’s grace, and through His power, we can reveal His loving character and become healthy Christians in a sin-sick world.