Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Becoming intelligent ................ Parables 345

November 24, 1992

A pad of notepaper has the following caption across the top: “I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person!”

One psychology textbook says intelligence is very difficult to measure. For one thing, there is little agreement on exactly what it is. Is it the capacity to solve problems? Or remember what you know? Or understand other people? Or be competent performing job-related skills? Or is it the quantity of information you can stuff in your brain? Besides whatever it is, how can intelligence be tested?

To complicate the matter, intelligence can be very selective. People considered autistic may not be able to function well enough to go to school or even be employed, but some of them can compute numbers as quickly and accurately as an electronic calculator or draw detailed pictures of complex subjects from memory. Some “average” people know how to take apart a tractor motor and put it back together. Others are better at learning how to write songs or draw pictures.

Those of us who belong to God sometimes wonder if we are armed with any wits at all regarding spirituality. We find ourselves so delighted to learn even the simplest truths about Him and what He expects of us, and then so quickly forget what we know. Spiritual truth does not come easy because our own habits and strategies for life run contrary to the way God wants us to live. To have spiritual wit, we have to learn how to think His way.

Romans 12:2 speaks about this process: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Simply put, our problem is that the natural human mind, no matter how clever, does not evaluate God’s will as good, acceptable, or perfect. Brain-power, logic, or I.Q. have nothing to do with one’s ability to trust God and even when He is trusted, everyone, wits or not, has to enter into this process of mind-renewal.

God does give Christians a head start in the matter. As the Apostle Paul says, “we have the mind of Christ,” itself an outstanding concept. He also adds, “Christ has been made unto us wisdom...” With Him at the center of our minds so we can think His thoughts means our actions are more apt to be in line with God’s will.

On the other hand, it is so easy to be conformed to this world. That means, among other things, to be centered on one’s self, which is the way most of the world operates; “look out for number one” and considering every event, person or piece of data is in light of how it relates to ourselves. I can go so far as to refuse any new ideas unless I can somehow fit them comfortable with what I have decided is true. Sometimes my worldly mind is even behind “good” deeds, those done mostly for personal satisfaction or recognition. From that, it is not difficult to understand that a mind conformed to the world is far more interested in personal comfort, power, and promotion of their own interests than it is concerned about God or the needs of others.

In contrast, a renewed mind moves away from putting self at the centre of things. Instead, Christ is put there. When He becomes the focus, life begins to take on a much different meaning. Christ-minded people begin to ask: How does God look at these events? How does this person relate to God? How does that data fit into His Word? What does God says is true about me? What can be done to glorify or promote God in this situation?

A renewed mind is not a perfect mind; there is still a struggle with life’s hurts and with decision-making. We tend to panic now and then and go back to patterns of behavior that used to work for us, pre-Christian strategies, if they could be called that, and we learn so slowly that they really do not work at all. We need God’s Spirit and His Word continually reminding us and helping us with how we should think.

So take heart all who wonder if God missed them when He passed out brain power. Those who have the wisdom of God may sometimes feel “unarmed” but with His wisdom, anyone can be a formidable foe in a battle of wits.

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