How we “view” tests and challenges in our life will determine the outcome they have in our lives: they can…

Build you up, or break you down  

The way you ‘view’ them refers to the attitude of your mind. Much of the Christian faith and growth in faith, depend on a changed or “renewed” mind.

By mind we do not mean brain – when scripture speaks of the mind, it refers to the central core of one’s personhood – the place where heart, strength, spirit, body, intellect, soul, passion and will converge.  Scripture instructs us to “have the same MIND in you that was in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:2) in the core of our being and to “not be conformed any longer to the pattern of the world (as the world thinks and operates) but be transformed by the renewing of your MIND.” (Romans 12:2)

This MIND that we are called to contributes to our faith and is not dependent on our feelings.  Our feelings are ever-changing and can be a great gift or a huge distraction. An overemphasis on emotions can lead what is a good mind astray, or strengthen a word-based mind to action.  Irrespective of how we feel, even though feeling are always valid, they are not to rule the mind.

Our minds are to be ruled by Christ, having the mind of Christ, in others words to think on things like Jesus.

  • To what extent have your emotions ruled your mind and your beliefs?
  • How can your emotions “lead a good mind astray, or strengthen a word-based mind to action.”

So why must we specifically change our mind (or thinking) with respect to how we consider tests and trials in our life?

“because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

Looking at it in context, Jesus and James encourage us to change our mind (thinking) relating to tests and challenges.  We are to “consider” something: which means to think about it and change the way you approach it.  As we consider, it is the same concept as when we “count” our weaknesses as strength, or “count” a loss, as gain.

  • Have you ever taken the time to “consider” what you are going through and how Jesus wants you to approach it?
  • Have you ever considered perseverance as part of a process to maturity and not lacking anything?

James is not asking us to call something true, false OR what is false, true.  He is inviting us into thinking that is shaped by the mind of Christ.

And how does Christ think about persevering through trials and troubles?  James 1:2-4 reminds us that perseverance in trials, works us through a process of maturation, so that we may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.

In this process of getting our thinking in line with Christs thinking on a matter, means that all the wisdom of Christ is available to us in Scripture.  The wisdom from Jesus is not like our wisdom.

James later tells us that wisdom “that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”  (James 3:17) The wisdom of Christ is not like earthly wisdom that is motivated by what is “earthly, unspiritual, demonic,) and results in “disorder and every evil practice.” (James 3:15-16)

Wisdom is different from conventional thinking or thinking like the world around us.  Wisdom often leads to a completely opposite way of approaching life which goes against our natural inclination or logic.  This is seen in other principles Jesus gives us like: the least amongst us is the greatest, the last will be first, give to receive etc.  James has trained his mind to the Mind of Christ and here in James 1, invites us to exchange our thinking patterns for the mind of Christ.

James also tells us that after we have “considered,” our mindset and if we still lack wisdom, “we should ask God” (James 1:5) and promises that our lack of understanding will be supplied.

When we persevere, it does not refer to a “putting the bit between the teeth and sticking with it” attitude.  Perseverance in One mind with Christ means changing our thinking about what we are persevering in and laying down our own strength so that the strength of the Holy Spirit can rise up in us; it is counter-intuitive.  Perseverance is not something we do as much as something the Holy Spirit does in us, as we surrender our own strategies and rely entirely on the Holy Spirit.

This change of approach, following the mind of Christ, is incredibly hard to do but is exponentially good for us, so that we can count it “pure joy.”

This mind of Christ embraces the thought that the outcome, though difficult to come to, will be worth it: “so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.”

Jesus, I want my thoughts and mind, the core of my personhood to be informed and shaped by Your mind, particularly in the area of trials and difficulties, hard times that seem to go on forever.  Help me to develop a new mindset, an attitude that lays down my strength and relies totally on the Holy Spirit in my perseverance.  Help me to consider, to seek Your wisdom for my life, much as it may be strange to me.  Help me to embrace it and not be like one who is blown and tossed by the winds of circumstances.

Next: Two Ways in Which Holy Spirit Helps us

Previous: Three Areas to Persevere In

Further Reading:

My Steps are Watched.

What Does it Mean to Abide in Christ