The Bible says: “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think”.
Spiritual growth isn’t automatic, it takes an intentional commitment. We must want to grow, decide to grow, make an effort to grow, & persist in growing. Our commitments can develop us or they can destroy us, but either way, they will define us. Tell me what you are committed to, & I’ll tell you what you will be in 20 years.
-God’s part & our part. Spiritual growth is a collaborative effort between us & the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit works with us, not just in us.
-Changing our autopilot. Warren gives us the example of riding in a speedboat with the autopilot set to go east. If we want to change the boat’s direction to head west, one way is to grab the steering wheel & physically force it to head in the opposite direction—by sheer willpower we could overcome the autopilot, but we would feel constant resistance. When we eventually tire of the stress, we’d let go of the steering wheel & the boat would instantly head back east, as programmed. That’s what happens to us when we try to change our life w/willpower, as when we say I’ll force myself to eat less: it can produce short term change, but it creates constant internal stress because we haven’t dealt with the root cause. The change doesn’t feel natural, we give up on the diet, & quickly revert to our old patterns.
A better way, Warren advises, is by changing our autopilot—the way we think. To be like Christ, we must develop the mind of Christ—the New Testament calls this mental shift repentance, which in Greek means “to change your mind”. We take on Christ’s outlook & perspective.
There are 2 parts in doing this: First we stop thinking immature thoughts, which are self-centered & self-seeking. Then we start thinking maturely, which focuses on others, not ourselves. The Christian life is more than biblical information, creeds & doctrine, it includes conduct & character. Our deeds must be consistent with our creeds, & our beliefs must be consistent with Christlike behavior.
Warren reminds us Christianity isn’t a religion or a philosophy, but a relationship & a lifestyle. The core of that lifestyle is thinking of others, as Jesus did, instead of ourselves. This kind of thinking is unnatural, counter-cultural, rare, & difficult. Fortunately we have help: “God has given us his Spirit. That’s why we don’t think the same way that the people of this world think.”
Question to Consider: What is one area where I need to stop thinking my way & start thinking God’s way?
* We will be writing about what inspires us from each consecutive chapter of Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. If you read along with us, please share your inspirations. There’s no need to catch up, just jump right in.