In my last post I talked about a training plan that would help us put God first and get rid of the sin in our lives. That plan can be found in Romans 12:1-2. Let me start by outlining the plan, and then we’ll flesh it out in the next few posts.
Four Steps to Transformation
- Renew your mind.
- Accept God’s view of the world.
- Change your attitude and behavior.
- Expect two things when you choose to do God’s will: 1) It will be a sacrifice. 2) It will be good.
Renewing of the Mind
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
The Greek word for transformation is interesting. It talks about a change that starts on the inside and works its way out. In other words, you’re not just changing your behavior, you’re changing the way you think about life and people, which will in turn produce a change in your behavior.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you have a problem with procrastination. If you took the behavior approach to the problem you would just try to force yourself to do your job. Maybe you would make a list or create a reward for yourself to have when you finish your job.
While these aren’t bad ideas, they don’t do anything to change who you are on the inside. You’re still a person who dreads work, or at least the type of work you’re procrastinating.
Paul’s approach is different. He tells us to take the time to be transformed on the inside (by renewing our minds) so that we actually want to do our jobs. Do you see the difference? The outward behavior is motivated by an inward change. Or as George Ricker Berry says in his index to New Testament Synonyms, “the outward form expresses the inner essence.” We become people who like the idea of work and that motivates us to do the work.
So how do you go about renewing your mind? It’s very simple. You change the way you think about life. Replace cultural thoughts with biblical thoughts. Replace lies with truth. Or, to tweak a popular phrase, learn to think like Jesus thinks.
Let’s see how this would work with our procrastination problem. We could start by taking a look at what the world (at least the American world) has to say about work. See if any of this sounds familiar:
Life should be fun and easy, and we shouldn’t have to suffer. If it feels good, we should do it. If it doesn’t feel good, we should skip it. After all, life is short! We need to enjoy it.
If I’m buying into these beliefs, do you think I’m going to want to do that crummy job on my to-do list? Of course not! I deserve a break—not a crummy job! The best thing to do would be to go take that break. Have a little fun. Enjoy life.
Do you see how your beliefs would keep you from doing your unwanted jobs? If this is what you’re thinking on the inside, you’ll always struggle with doing your jobs on the outside.
But what if you were able to change your beliefs? What if you were able to start seeing work as a good thing? Do you see how life-changing that would be? You wouldn’t have to force yourself to work because you would actually want to work.
So how do you change the way you think? You do it situation by situation. Each time you don’t feel like working you take the time to renew your mind. Replace cultural thoughts with biblical thoughts. Replace lies with truth.
You could pray Scripture. You could talk yourself through it. You could truth journal.* Do whatever works best for you. But always make sure that you’re changing your thoughts to a biblical perspective.
I’ve mentioned before that I struggle with writing. To a large extent I’m still buying into the cultural belief that life should be fun and easy. Because of this, I’ve been having a hard time these last few weeks with the starting of this new blog.
God, in His great goodness, though, showed me a few verses that I think will help a lot. I’ve put them on sticky notes on my computer, and I read them whenever I start thinking, “This is too hard. I can’t do this. I have no idea what to write.” (If you struggle with a similar problem you can find these verses in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 and 15.)
These Bible verses help me accept God’s view of the world, which is the second step of the transformation process. I change my attitude, which makes it easier to change my behavior. Yes, it’s a sacrifice. Life would be much easier without writing. But God’s will is always good.
When I submit, He blesses.
And one of His biggest blessing is the peace that comes when I submit to His will, not just with my behavior, but also with my heart. In the past I’ve always found His will to be good.
I expect it to be good this time, as well.
*Note: For ideas on how to truth journal, see the Freedom from Emotional Eating blog and look under the heading “truth journaling” over on the left side of the blog.
Helpful Procrastination Bible verses: Psalm 18:29, Isaiah 40:31, Jeremiah 42:6b, Galatians 6:9, Philippians 4:13, Philippians 4:19, Colossians 3:17.