"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
This verse follows my personal favorite verse in all of scripture, where Paul urges us to offer our bodies as "living sacrifices" as our true and proper act of worship.
Today I am contemplating this passage because it is the start of a new semester for me at seminary. Although school is difficult, I find a certain exhilaration when classes begin and my professors delve into the various topics we'll be covering in the course. This morning I already went to my first class and am excited to "renew my mind" in this particular class as I learn more about the history of American church music, and study how the debates going on today about worship have been going on for centuries.
Academic pursuits are just one way of "renewing the mind," but they are certainly incredibly fruitful. So I began contemplating the importance of Romans 12:2, and the various ways we are called to renew our minds. Here are three important ways to renew the mind that I have found spiritually beneficial:
1) Read and study
"To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight" Proverbs 1:2
There is an entire book of the Bible which was written so people could read it and gain wisdom. Certainly the Bible is the most important book for us to read (point number 3 below), but there are so many other books which are fruitful reads too. I am not a big-time reader, but every time I do read a book to gain instruction in my Christian walk, daily living, musical knowledge, or other topics, I am incredibly blessed. Some of my favorite books are ones I have read for my own benefit, without anyone prompting me, but which deal with important topics I love- such as music and worship. These have even come in handy later when writer papers or discussing controversial issues!
2) Seek wise counsel
"Without counsel plans fail,
but with many advisers they succeed." Proverbs 15:22
My father has shared this verse with me frequently, and I have taken it to heart. It is applicable in the context of education, because we should listen to teachers who are knowledgeable in their fields. It is applicable to those in the church, because we have the opportunity each week to listen to our pastors expound on the Word of God. It also applicable any time we need direction and advice. Multiple people can pray for us, and offer multiple opinions, which give a clearer picture. Every time I have needed to make a major decision in life, I have sought out the advice of peers, family, and older Christians whom I respect. In this manner, I have often gained a deeper and more well-rounded perspective on the situation. Sometimes the same advice keeps popping up from multiple voices, and I also have learned to pay attention when that occurs.
3) Seek the mind of Christ
"Have the same mind in you that is in Christ Jesus." Philippians 2:5
"I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me." Psalm 16:7
"The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations." Psalm 33:10-11
Finally, it is of utmost importance to seek the Lord to renew our mind. We do this every day through Bible study and prayer, and we should do it every time we desire guidance and wisdom. Nothing can replace the habit of reading the Bible daily and submitting to God's authority.
These methods of renewing my mind are very important to the Christian walk. May we continue to seek the Lord, and use all of our faculties, including our mind, for His glory.