“This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best” Philippians 1:9-10
When I was young, my mother tried to prepare me for life by urging me to make up two things: my bed and my mind. When I got up each day she would remind me, “Joe, make up your bed.” And when I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do, she would prod me, “Joe, make up your mind.”
By far, making up our minds is the more important of the two skills. The real issue is not whether we can make up our mind; it’s whether we can make up our minds correctly. Correct thinking leads to correct decisions—the kind of decisions that guarantee productive and satisfying outcomes. But in our culture correct thinking is a challenge. Every day we are bombarded with secular input that is not only incorrect from God’s point of view, but also counterproductive in our relationships, aspirations, and spiritual growth.
This tug of war in our minds is really about values. Our values define us. They are the guiding principles that form our thoughts, our conclusions, and ultimately our behavior. They are instilled in us by our families, teachers, experiences, entertainment choices, our heroes, our community, and sometimes even by our fallen instincts. When we listen to all the voices around us and ignore the input of God’s Word, making up our mind always get us into trouble.
But when we accept the truth of God’s Word as the guiding principle for decision-making, we will be equipped with the discernment to make up our minds in good ways. And, there is no shortage of good advice in Scripture! God has given us the correct information on how to handle money, relationships, children, spouses, offenses, employers, employees, and politicians. You name it—God has the correct information to guide your mind to correct conclusions.
But beware—good discernment can be easily derailed by rationalization. It’s easy to make mental excuses that neutralize our ability to make good choices. We’ve all heard the excuses—and sometimes from our own lips: “I know it’s wrong, but . . .” or “If it weren’t for the way he treats me” or “I know a lot of people who do worse things.”
In Philippians 1:9-11, Paul encourages us to make excellent decisions that are the by-product of an uncompromised, excuse-free commitment to unselfish acts of love grounded in a discerning application of the knowledge of God’s Word. The result? A life that basks in the pleasures of purity, the fruit of the Spirit, and the fulfillment of our redemptive purpose to live to the praise and glory of God (Philippians 1:10-11).
So take my mother’s advice: Every day, make up your bed and make up your mind. Just be careful how you make up your mind!
- List some of the primary sources of information in today’s society. What values and beliefs do they represent?
- Read Romans 12:2. In what ways have you been conforming to the pattern of this world? What changes need to take place this week to center your thinking more on biblical values than worldly values? As you implement those changes, the process of transformation is well under way.
- What decisions in your life have been shaped by biblical thinking and values? What has been the result of those decisions?