This is the first in a series of devotional thoughts designed to go with our Adult Sunday School curriculum. We have been studying Romans this spring.
I love the beach. Walking along the shore with the waves playing tag with my feet and my toes sinking into the wet sand, reading in the shade of an umbrella, feeling the ocean breeze on my face, filling my lungs with the salty air – I love it all! And since moving near the ocean, I try to go as often as possible.
The waves are my favorite. The constant back and forth, ebb and flow of the water combined with the sheer power of the larger waves further out baffle me. How can something that tickles my toes as I stroll down the beach cause the destruction we see during a hurricane?
Some days my mind feels like the ocean. A constant barrage of thoughts crashes through my mind like the waves crashing on the shore. Wave after wave. Unceasing. Powerful. Each one with the potential for destruction or peace.
Paul discusses our minds in Romans 12:2-
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
-Romans 12:2, NIV
If we are truly honest, we all struggle with conformity to the patterns of the world in some way or another. These patterns are both obvious and subtle. While it may be easy to detect worldly patterns involving hurting others, stealing things, or cheating, discerning the world’s influence over the way we think can be much more difficult. We are bombarded with messages about beauty, success, things we need, popularity, humor, etc. on a moment by moment basis. And many of these messages contribute to the more destructive waves of thinking.
But before we despair and begin to worry about subliminal messages from every commercial, news article, or social media post, let’s look again at Romans 12:2. The NLT phrases it this way:
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
-Romans 12:2, NLT
Deciding to follow Jesus and live life in the Jesus way brings transformation to every part of us, even down to our very patterns of thought. When we follow Jesus, we are free from having to conform to the world and the world’s way of doing and thinking. We are free. This means we have the freedom to think differently, to reflect differently, to respond differently.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us, we are completely transformed. Our minds are renewed, our old patterns of thought destroyed. But how?
In his commentary on Romans, Dr. Charles Talbert offers this prayer of surrender: “Here is my will; will through my will today; here are my thoughts; think through my thoughts today; here are my emotions; feel through my emotions today.”
May walking with Jesus change the way we think today.
Prayer from: Charles Talbert. Romans. Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary. (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2002), 181.