It’s All Meaningless 7? The Importance Of Our Minds (Ecclesiastes 4:4-8 & 5:10-20)
Ecclesiastes 4:4-8: “And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind…8 There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.”
Ecclesiastes 5:10-20: “Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied w/their income. This too is meaningless.”
We began looking into theBible last post regarding the path to
contentment & satisfaction in Christ,
being emptied of envy & filled with the Lord Jesus.
Paul learned the secret of being content in every situation—
here is one of the main ways the LORD taught Paul contentment:
Philippians 4:8-9: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true,
whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things.
9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—
put it into practice.
And the God of peace will be with you.
Our thoughts are directly connected with our actions!
We want peace, but we fill our minds with everything but the LORD and
aren’t concerned to have actions that learn to submit to Him & obey Him…
We might as well deeply desire to be wet but avoid water at all costs…
The Bible speaks often of the importance of what we think, our minds…
Colossians 1:21: Once you were alienated from God
and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.
Proverbs 4:23-25: Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.24 Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.
The heart & the mind overlap and are very similar;
to guard your heart is to guard your mind,
what you think about, what you consider, what you desire & plan for…
2 Peter 3:1-2: “Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you.
I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.
2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets
and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.”
Romans 8:5-7: Those who live according to the flesh
have their minds set on what the flesh desires;
but those who live in accordance with the Spirit
have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
6 The mind governed by the flesh is death,
but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
7The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God;
it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
Our minds can be as hostile to the LORD as our fists…
false beliefs & sinful thinking are just as criminal as sinful actions & responses…
Romans 13:13-14: Let us behave decently, as in the daytime,
not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery,
not in dissension and jealousy.
14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ,
and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
To saturate our minds with Christ and to center our thoughts around Him each day
is similar to clothing our bodies with an outfit…
the wardrobe goes with you wherever you go, is noticed by all who see you…
To fill our thoughts with the LORD
is NOT like throwing one more piece of unused stuff into a cluttered and dusty attic…
Roman 1:21:For although they knew God,
they neither glorified him as God
nor gave thanks to him,
but their thinking became futile [meaningless—chasing wind!]
and their foolish hearts were darkened.
The sinfulness of humans, which deserves the wrath of God,
starts with sinful thoughts & desires of our minds and hearts…
2 Corinthians 5:10: We demolish arguments and every pretension that
sets itself up against the knowledge of God,
and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Our minds aren’t the place
where we can just fantasize about whatever we want
because we think we aren’t actually acting on those fantasies…
to think IS to do…
Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy,
to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—
this is your true and proper worship.
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
To truly mature & grow in Christ, our minds must be transformed & renewed…
what we think about & the way we think about those things…
2 Corinthians 4:18: So we fix our eyes not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Matthew 6:22-24: 22“The eye is the lamp of the body.
If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.
23But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness.
If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24“No one can serve two masters.
Either you will hate the one and love the other,
or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
You cannot serve both God and money.”
What are you “eye-ing” with your desires, mind & heart—
Christ as your daily & eternal treasure,
or ANYTHING else? (e.g the things of this world)(John Piper–click HERE)
Hebrews 12:1-2: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus,
the pioneer [author] & perfecter of faith…”
To truly follow the Lord Jesus as our Lord & Savior,
we must fill our thoughts with Him throughout the week…
What happens when we don’t to learn to control what we put in our minds?
Mark 4:18-19:Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word;
19but the worries of this life,
the deceitfulness of wealth
and the desires for other things come in
and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
We must see our thoughts as food, what we watch & look at as eating—we subtly acknowledge this with phrases such as
thinking is “food for thought” or you gave me “something to chew on [think about].”
We choke God’s Word in our life & stunt our growth in Christ
by what we put in our minds,
like cake on a salad leaves us unhealthy though we ate the lettuce.
We stir up the pot of our sinful desires by what we watch, look at & think about.
1 Peter 1:13: Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober,
set your hope on the grace to be brought to you
when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.
But too often our minds are drowsy & drunk on the world
and all that it is selling & teaching…
Here is a question for us to think about:
Do you think this world & its ideas are neutral
or basically good with a few spills to avoid?
Let’s see what the Bible says:
1 John 5:9: “We know that we are children of God,
and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”
2 Corinthians 4:4: The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers,
so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ,
who is the image of God.
Revelation 12:9: “…that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan,
who leads the whole world astray…”
1 John 2:15-17: Do not love the world or anything in the world.
If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.
16 For everything in the world—
the lust of the flesh,the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—
comes not from the Father but from the world.
The world and its desires pass away,
but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
Nothing neutral about this world, my friends. The river has a swift current:
We’re either swimming upstream toward Christ or flowing away from Him.
Andrew Fletcher 1703: “If a man were permitted to make all the songs
he needn’t care who should make the laws of a nation;
the most ancient politicians thought
they couldnt well reform the manners of a city without the help of a lyric,
and sometimes of a dramatic poet.”
That is exactly the situation today—we allow ourselves to be changed & influenced, not by Christ’s Law, but by the culture’s songs, movies, t.v. shows, & popular opinion on social media.
We think it isn’t having an effect on our beliefs & actions.
We starve ourselves from God’s Word, prayer, quiet stillness with the LORD,
and confession of sin to Him,
and we gorge on the ideas of the world—
no wonder the 21st century Church is so unlike the 1st century Church
& looks so much like non-Christians.
“Whatever you spend your time doing most, that is what’s
discipling/training/educating you”—pastor Scott Sauls.
And oh we are being trained, just not usually by the Lord Jesus.
We’re all in a small group, either a Biblical or cultural one—
Netflix & social media & ESPN have become our teachers.
The conquering Babylonians did more than just
destroy the physical city of Jerusalem…buildings can be rebuilt.
They did something much more damaging:
they imported their own culture & changed the Hebrew way of life
by influencing the royal family.
How? Daniel 1:1-8:
- Changing how they spoke (language),
- how they thought (literature) &
- what they ate (part of their identity as God’s people).
The world does the same to Christians today…
and we allow it, pay money for it, & enjoy the spiritual junk food/poison.
We’re slowly boiled to death in a pot
& we’ve bought the lie that its a hot tub to relax in.
Daniel 1:3-5, 8:7 They were to be trained for three years,
and after that they were to enter [Nebuchadnezzar’s] service…
8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine…
We serve whoever/whatever is educating us.
Sin looks less terrible when we watch show after show
with characters who commit those sins
and still have things work out for them in the end.
Don’t underestimate the power of story—the Lord Jesus taught often in parables!
But the devil also uses story to lead us astray.
So we begin to approve of sins—
the characters who do them in shows/movies are so nice and pleasant and funny!
One of the biggest effects of watching many movies and t.v. shows,
even ones that aren’t directly/obviously sinful,
is that they portray life without God,
and situations that often work out great or not that bad
WITHOUT any intervention of God or reliance on Him or acknowledgement of Him.
We are allowing ourselves to learn practical atheism-–
living day to day as if God is not real–
but soothe our consciences
by our church attendance on Sunday mornings
and our intellectual belief in God…
Though our minds & hearts naturally wander away
from thinking about & relying on the LORD each moment,
by what we watch
we put our wandering hearts & minds in a swift current that subtly says,
“Look how things worked out fine for them with out the Lord Jesus Christ.
Same can be true for you!”
We study so few examples in our lives
of people faithfully walking with the LORD, really sold out,
and we study so many examples of people
having a seemingly great life without Him—
no wonder Christianity is a hobby or extracurricular activity to so many—
it’s not our MAIN curriculum, its extra when we can conveniently fit it in…
We chase after the culture’s meaningless wind the more commercials we watch—
our discontent is stirred by these “harmless” ads.
They’re not neural!
Ads are strategically designed to create discontent with what we have
& desire for what we don’t have (what the company is selling).
Companies in the 1900s started sending free catalogs to houses—
they quickly realized that if they could just get customers
to look & dream (THINK!)
they were more than halfway to making the sale.
You’re never “just browsing…”
Looking is shopping & VERY effective–it is to buying what smelling is to eating.
It’s why companies spend millions of dollars for 30 second commercials—
they aren’t HOPING the commercials work, they KNOW they will.
It’s not a gamble—it’s a guarantee…
if we get our eyes off the character of Christ & on the carrots of culture,
we’ll run the culture’s meaningless race like greyhounds,
lap after meaningless lap…
Eve saw that the fruit was “pleasing to the eye…
so she took some and ate it.”
Study after study: the more time on Facebook,
the more anxious & discontent we are.
The more we use smart phones,
the less attention span we have to “be still & know that He is God” (Psalm 46:10)—
quiet feels boring & unrewarding & unproductive (unAmerican!).
Former social media executives tell how their sites
are designed to create addiction and habits among users—
creating neurological rewards and stimuli
to get people to come back to the site more & more.
This is why Facebook created the “like” button! (Please click HERE for full article)
Thoughts & actions, what we see & what we do, are connected—
many non-Christians understand this, many Christians don’t.
We are at war, dear Christians—
against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:10-20).
But many say, “Surely we’ve outgrown the superstition
of demons & spiritual powers at war with us.
I don’t like this talk of Christianity as war—its about love & kindness.”
Yes Christianity is love, but love in the midst of war,
which makes love so beautiful, sacrificially loving God when it’s most difficult, compassion for others when they don’t deserve it.
To get to the endzone of sacrificially loving God & others
we must go thru the linebackers of evil spiritual forces
that hate God in us & attack our minds & hearts with spiritual weapons.
We forget John 10: The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy—
we think the thief, if he’s there at all,
comes to borrow, bruise & bother.
If we aren’t at war, why did the LORD give us the tools of war?
- Helmet of salvation,
- shield of faith,
- sword of the Spirit,
- breastplate of righteousness,
- belt of Truth to hold it all up,
- sandals of the Gospel of peace to keep our footing?
You don’t put on SWAT-gear for a pillow fight, or football pads to play chess.
Many may think this Truth is outdated,
but if you went back 400 years & told the smartest people
that much sickness was caused by invisible bacteria all around,
powerful microscopic organisms unseen by the eye,
you’d have been ridiculed as a simpleton & a fool…
Same is true today when we think that we are NOT at war
against spiritual forces that hate the LORD & hate Him in us.
They want us out of shape spiritually, and in that sense they’re winning—
that’s what we are.
Our blessed middle-class life has made us think we’re not at war,
that reality is just what we see with our eyes,
that life is mainly about sports & shopping & going out to eat
& deciding what movie to watch & what car to get.
- Surest way to win a war
is to convince the other side that they aren’t in one.
- Surest way to win a war
isnt to steal the other’s side’s weapons,
but convince them they don’t need them.
Our cataracts must be surgically removed by the LORD—
we must see reality as the Bible reveals it, not as we feel it to be.
We are dazed boxers
and we need the smelling salts of the Holy Spirit & His Word
to revive us and awaken us to righteousness and reality.
We must think about Christ more & culture less…
just as forcefully & strategically in World War 2 as guns & bombs.
Each side tried to shift the thinking & thoughts of the other side
because both knew that would affect their actions.
Tokyo Rose was a radio program used by the Axis Powers,
with a nice soothing voice (not screaming and ranting),
to get the Allied soldiers’ thoughts off the war
& onto their danger, suffering, & sacrifice—
- “think about what you’re missing back home,
- your girlfriend is finding another boyfriend to replace you,
- you cannot win,
- go back to school and a future,
- go back to the farm,
- get a soda & go to the movies,
- relax, stop fighting,
- what difference can you make,
- we aren’t a threat to you personally,
- what did we ever do to you as an individual,
- why needlessly suffer,
- why are you risking your life for the decisions of politicians in your government who won’t risk theirs/who are far from the bullets & bombs?”, etc. etc.
What a demoralizing effect it had on some–what a battlefield of the mind!
Why did they listen? They often didn’t even realize
they were being attacked by these words;
the statements came between many popular American pop songs
that the soldiers loved!
We face the same propaganda—& it’s working, my dear friends—
- follow your heart,
- you deserve to be happy,
- treat yourself,
- just relax,
- you only live once,
- this sin isn’t that big of a deal (it’s not even sin, it’s who you are!),
- check out this over here, etc.—
we listen & watch eagerly each day,
opening our browsers & smart phones
first thing in the morning & the last thing before bed
while keeping our Bible’s closed.
We have countless Text messages from the LORD unread in our Bibles,
but we make sure to read & respond ASAP
to others’ text messages & social media pings & newsfeed updates.
Our minds are under attack
& we are eagerly paying for the privilege of being brain-washed.
The ocean is NEVER neutral—
there’s always a current flowing in one direction or another.
Even when it appears calm on the surface,
it isnt calm beneath the surface.
That’s why boats have anchors—
if they just sit, they’ll drift & be swept away&moved in a direction.
Which current are you flowing with:
the Holy Spirit’s or the world’s?
Which do you look like?
You might think, “Great. Now I’m going to feel guilty
every time I do anything except read the Bible or pray.”
My dear friends, I’m not trying to make you feel guilty—
I’m simply asking you to think!
- What do you eat & drink with your minds?
- What are we feeding on each day?
- What are the long-term effects of guzzling the world’s teachings
& only gargling (& often spitting out!) Christ & His Word?
- What is our purpose/mission from Christ?
- What does it mean to throw off everything that hinders
& the sin that so easily entangles
& fix our eyes on Jesus
so we can run the race HE has marked out for us (Hebrews 12)
instead of the American Rat Race?
Pray & dig in the Bible with other Christians & act on what you learn!
You might be thinking, “You’re over-reacting. It’s just social media/a t.v. show.”
- A single triple cheeseburger is lunch,
but a lifetime of them daily is heart disease & a heart attack.
We must not only see our daily decisions as isolated events
but also as part of a bigger and cumulative whole…
Spiritual cholesterol is a big deal—
much more serious than physically clogged heart valves & arteries.
We’re content to be forgiven.
We’ve neglected the command, “Train yourselves to be godly.”
We’re spiritually out of shape, & when hard times come,
we pray for a little & are shocked at how hard it is,
we’re discouraged that we don’t understand our Bibles,
we wonder why we dont have peace & trust in the Lord.
We’re spiritually winded after a few steps
of carrying our cross & following King Jesus
& we get back on the couch—it’s too hard, it’s too much, we say.
- Why doesn’t the Bible seem real,
- why does God feel far,
- why is my relationship with Him so weak,
- why do I never hunger to pray & be with Him?
My dear friends, because we haven’t trained!
Our spiritual pulse is low
from gorging our minds on the world’s menu all these years.
We are in a spiritual coma,
we ask why is God far from us
instead of asking why are we far from Him!
All this is having a devastating effect on the Church in the U.S…
Some might think, “You’re asking too much, you’re asking us to be hermits or monks.”
My dear friends, I’m simply saying what the New Testament says—
“set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2).
I am not asking us to be hermits,
I am simply asking us to be Christian,
Biblical Christians, not cultural ones.
I am asking us to be what we are…
foreigners in a land that is not our home,
aliens in a country that only has our second, temporary citizenship,
not our first & permanent one,
to act as if we/re simply passing thru this world on the way to our true Home,
to be focused on His mission for us,
to be a people set apart—holy—for the Lord Jesus.
Let’s feast on Him together, my friends, with our minds & hearts & eyes & time,
let’s be full of Him & not the world,
let’s set our minds on things above,
instead of chasing the wind, let’s chase Him Who controls the wind…