Gordon MacDonald wrote about browsing in an old bookstore one day and finding a classic title among the second-hand books. It had a well-worn cover and he was excited to look through it. His mind wandered as he thought about who might have owned it and enjoyed hours of reading it.
But when he opened the book, he discovered that some of the pages had never been properly cut. The book, well-worn on the outside, had never been read. Perhaps it had been simply used as a doorstop or seat for a child. He was sad to realize that such a great book had never been used for its purpose. MacDonald wrote, “The Christian who is not growing intellectually is like a book whose many pages remain unopened and unread.”
Growing in our faith includes growing in our mind and expanding our understanding. When we come to faith, we are to be transformed in every area of our life. What does it mean to grow in our minds as Christians?
1. We need to learn to think as Christians.
Paul tells us in Romans 12:2 to not “conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” One translation says that we shouldn’t let our minds be ‘squeezed’ by the thinking of this world. That means there is a difference between the way ‘the world’ thinks and the way we should think as Christians. Are we allowing God’s spirit to transform our minds?
2. We need to set our mind on things above.
People will often complain that they don’t have time to study the Bible or think about the higher order of things. But how much time is taken up in gossip or idle talk on social media? We waste time in front of various screens, but it is not always edifying. We don’t need to withdraw from the world around us, but we are encouraged to “think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.” (Colossians 3:2) How much time during the day to you think about ‘the things of heaven’?
3. We need to use our transformed mind in a way that serves others.
Think of all the people who have used their gifts to benefit others. There’s the researcher looking to help cure a disease, a teacher helping a student learn to read, or an engineer designing shelter for refugees. All of these are using their minds in ministry to others. We don’t seek to grow for our own benefit, but rather to help better the world around us and bless others. Are you learning and growing in ways that will help you serve others?
We might somehow think that growing in our mind or understanding is rather fleshly or worldly, but we are reminded in 2 Corinthians 10 that we don’t walk according to the flesh and we should “take every thought captive to obey Christ.” It’s a tall order and it doesn’t happen in a day, but we can keep on working at it.