Your Ability to Think: 10 Ways It Should Be Shaping You

You have been blessed with the God-given ability to think, yet many times we all fail to think well and deeply enough about the significance and implications of our faith.   James W. Sire highlights the need for Christians to think:

“I am most interested in encouraging Christians to think and read well. Christians, of all people, should reflect the mind of their Maker. Learning to read well is a step toward loving God with your mind. It is a leap toward thinking God’s thoughts after Him.”

If we are thinking individuals, surely it should shape us in profound and lasting ways and enable us to understand and engage better with God and the world around us. What follows are 10 ways I believe the constant & consistent application of you mental faculties should be shaping you.

1. You should develop critical thinking skills.

Thinking critically (evaluating information to determine its correctness) is a skill and ability that has been lost in our generation. With so much information coming to us through so many platforms, the ability to critique its truthfulness and relevance has become more difficult. When you constantly evaluate everything against God’s Word and seek to integrate those aspects consistent with it, you will grow in your ability to think through information and not just accept or be influenced by whatever enters your eyes and ears.

2. You should integrate all of life in a meaningful way.

When you are a thinking individual, you are able to marry all aspects of life in such a way that it brings harmony and unity. There are so many aspects of our lives that have an impact on one another. Wrong assumptions or beliefs in one area can often have a spill-over effect in another (e.g. What we believe about the sanctity of life will inform our positions on marriage, children, relationships, medical technology etc. This in turn will produce outcomes consistent with those beliefs. Inconsistent and conflicting realities in your life will tend to make you a more fragmented individual. I want to encourage you to foster beliefs that compliment or undergird one another in such a way that it integrates your life into a unified whole.

3. You should think more rightly about God, yourself, and the world.

If you are not a thinking individual, you will never make great strides in your understanding of God, yourself, and the world around you. It is through the act of thinking that your ideas, conceptions, beliefs, and convictions are challenged and questioned. It is a very daunting task to part from strongly held beliefs that are false, but if truth is your main pursuit you will have to face, own up to, and discard everything you believe about God that is inconsistent with his nature & character.  Thinking well is a necessary vehicle to truth.

4. You should be able to distinguish between truth & error more easily.

As you grow in truth, your foundation should not only deepen but also broaden. With this in place, you should be able to distinguish between truth and error more swiftly in the same way that those who are intimately acquainted with a real bank note would be able to pin-point a counterfeit note more easily. Truth & error becomes easier to distinguish from one another when the standard against which you evaluate it enlarges and becomes more fixed within your life.

5. You should honour God through the use of your mental capacity.

Your ability to think and reason is given to you by God. It reflects something of God’s own image in you – and this is truly a wonderful reflection of your Creator’s mind. When you devalue the purpose and application of your mental faculties, you diverge from living and functioning in a way that is pleasing to God. When you use your ability to think and reason for the very purpose it was given to us, you will be honouring the one who gave us these capacities. We all recognize the great loss when we see something not being used for the purpose it was created for or when something is not being used to its full potential. Use your mind for the purpose it was given as well as the continuing development of its potential.

6. You should love God holistically – with your entire being.

Loving God must be done with your entire being, including your mind. Jesus reminds us that loving God must be done with every aspect of our beings, not just some parts.

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:30, ESV).

Your mind matters just as much in expressing your love towards God than any of your other faculties and capacities

7. You should be making meaningful contributions to society at large.

We live in a society where we are constantly being confronted by challenges and problems. When we are thinking individuals, we will be more likely to come up with possible solutions to those challenges and problems. Even if you are unable to bring about change, contributing to the discussion in a positive way will still be within your grasp. New & changing ideologies being introduced in the public arena will demand Christians to think deeply. This is due to the fact that an idea must first be understood before it can be evaluated as truthful or not. Think through the changes you want to see in the world.

8. You should grow in your convictions.

When you are able to articulate not only what you believe but also why you believe what you believe, your beliefs begin to turn into convictions (strongly or deeply held beliefs). This in turn will give you greater confidence because you will be able to hold your ground when being confronted or when your beliefs are being questioned or attacked.  When you are secure in your beliefs, confidence will always be the by-product.

9. You should have the freedom to disagree with others without being disagreeable.

As you grow in your critical thinking skills and the application of your mind, you will find that you do not have to agree with every single person on every single issue. You will find contentment in the reality that others will have different views than your own. It is exactly because you don’t feel the necessity to be right or to win another person over to your position that you will be able to be gracious in your interactions with them. It is totally fine to disagree with others. As Christians we should remember not to become disagreeable (being unpleasant, unfriendly, or bad-tempered) in the process of our disagreement.

10. You should instruct & lead others in the truth.

It is impossible to lead others down a specific road if you have not travelled there yourself. The blind cannot lead the blind. If they do, both will stumble and get hurt. It is only in of your own pursuit of truth that you will be able to instruct others in its discovery & embrace. You will rarely stumble upon truth – truth that is worth having will always come at a cost. It will take time to process and think through many areas and aspects of life. This is where the joy of discovery should grip your heart and mind. In a day & age where truth is in short supply, may your own pursuit of truth lead to the instruction and blessing of others.

God has given us a mind so that we may know him and may enjoy and embrace everything good that this world has to offer. Utilize this God-given capacity in such a way that you honour your creator through its use and bring others ever closer to the one in whom all truth resides.