Knowledge is easy to find, or not. With all of the devices at our fingertips, it is far easier today to access information than any other time. But, what is worth knowing? What is true? How do you prepare yourself to discern? Do you exercise any objectivity at all, or do you play loose with your mind?
In 1 Timothy 3:1-7, a godly person is described as being “sober-minded.” It is the third in a series of 15 characteristics that define a godly person. We have already learned about having a blameless reputation and a pure affection. Now, we need to discuss the way we think and how we develop a mind that is objective with judgements.
“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”1 Timothy 3:1-7
What is a Sensible Mind?
Prior to our life in Christ, we were trained to think in a way that is congruent with the world. When we received new life in Christ, we also received the grace to think differently. However, the knowledge and wisdom we possessed was not necessarily switched in an instant. Rather, our minds require a new understanding. We have to train ourselves to think correctly, not like the world. The Bible teaches us to build a mind that objectively processes ideas from a biblical perspective:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”Romans 12:2
Some of you might remember the children’s pop song where a computer sang the chorus, “Input-output, what goes in is what comes out.” It reminds us that how we fuel our mind will determine how we exercise our thinking. And, this is crucial to having a godly life.
Your mind informs your actions, influences your will, and stirs your emotions. It is the cockpit of your behavior and the steering wheel of your choices. It is the forge where conviction and courage is formed. For this reason, we need to first be sure that we are continually feeding our minds with the truth of God and the wisdom that is consistent with divine principles.
This word in the original language is made up of two ideas that produce the concept of “sound thinking” which implies an ability to control your thinking so that it reasons in a healthy way. It is, to borrow the phrase, “taking every thought captive” and surrendering all of it to the truth of God (2 Cor. 10:5).
The Dangerous Results of Loose Thinking
The opposite of a sober-mind is a frivolous mind, a mind that allows any and all arbitrary thoughts to run freely in your head without any regard to what is accurate and true. This kind of thinking has devastating results. Romans 1:21 tells us, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
Consider your home. You have doors on your home to keep unwanted guests from entering and to keep uninformed children from exiting. Leaving the door wide open can result in chaotic living conditions. In the same way, you shouldn’t allow any unwanted ideas into your head nor uninformed ideas out of it. You need to keep the door of your mind closed except for that which is good and right for your life.
For this reason, I’m calling this characteristic a sensible mind. We need to build a mind that functions in a prudent way that is based on a biblical perspective. We need to cultivate a level-headedness that helps us reason in difficult situations in a reasonable way and not to rush to extreme perspectives. We should construct our mind to think objectively based on wisdom that is informed by God’s Word.
This means that we need to get into God’s Word, and let God’s Word get into us. So, do you have a steady diet of God’s Word? Do you regularly consult with the Bible about decisions you make? Are you committed to the truth it teaches? Here are some steps to help you transform your mind to prepare yourself for sensible thinking.
Consume Sound Doctrine
By “sound doctrine,” I mean teachings that produce godly living. You can consume this kind of teaching by reading the Bible and studying the principles that arise from your reading. It is helpful to keep a good commentary or study Bible with you as you read. It helps you understand some of the more complicated readings.
You might want to have a good commentary or a devotion that explains what you are reading in a deeper way. I’ll provide some links in the description to some resources that can help.
Pray for Understanding
When the truth of God comes together with prayer, God brings to you understanding and wisdom. Some truths are easy to comprehend and apply. But, there are depths of truth that the Lord can reveal to you that you would otherwise not discover. So, ask the Lord to bring you understanding as you consume His Word.
Learn from God
We should never feel like it is beneficial to lock ourselves into a room without a Bible and expect God to download spiritual knowledge. Learning from God is gleaning from God’s Word and from sources that explain and unpack God’s Word in a way that is right. It is likely that God has made some people or resources accessible to you now (like a local church or Bible study). You only need to take advantage of them.
Seize Every Thought
Not everything you think or hear, even from the wisest people around you, is truthful and right. So, it is a good exercise to take every thought captive and examine it in light of biblical truth. Ask yourself, “Does this idea submit to the Lordship of Christ?” If not, file it in the trash. It is not good for you nor worth your time. You need to stick to sound doctrine.
Pass it On
More than often, we deepen our understanding of truth by teaching others. It requires us to think carefully and logically about ideas, and causes us to refine them when necessary. So, find a friend or a family member and recount what you are learning. Maybe, you can wrestle through some complex truths with some close friends to help sharpen yourself. Passing the truth of God on to others helps solidify it in your own mind.