December 23, 2014

Sober-minded, not double-minded

Yesterday I was of a mind to clear the clutter from my studio. I worked with singleness of purpose and concentration. The job is not done yet, but I am thankful that my mind was free from distractions, or when contrary thoughts did pop up, it was possible to dismiss them and return to a strong focus. This was an answer to prayer, and if anyone thinks they don’t need to pray for such things, they have never been inside my head.

Since my devotional booklet is focused on the danger of being double-minded, I decided to do a search on ____-minded. I found this combination used once in the Old Testament, and by three different authors in the New using three different words.

The writer of Psalm 119 said, “I hate the double-minded, but I love your law” (verse 113). Here the Hebrew word means ambivalent, divided, half-hearted, a disloyal person. Double-mindedness will do that to me, particularly the half-hearted part. I will be loyal out of principle, but double-mindedness will rob me of my enthusiasm for many things. What a difference between that and having a God-given ability to concentrate.

Paul wrote about ____-mindedness in a different way. He used a word that means “not given to extremes” and warned against having a mind that tends to polarize. His warnings concerned church leaders . . .
·      Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach (1 Timothy 3:2)
·      Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. (1 Timothy 3:11)
·      Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. (Titus 2:2)

Paul and Peter both wrote about being sober-minded too, but in another context and using another word. This one means to curb the controlling influence of inordinate emotions or desires that would make me act unreasonably. Most of us can relate to the effect emotions have on our thinking, such as fear and discouragement. The verses using this word are . . .
·      As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:5)
·      Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13)
·      The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. (1 Peter 4:7)
·      Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

James picks up the idea of double-mindedness that the psalmist wrote about. He used still another word. This one means an inner duality of thought that is in opposition to itself and produce indecisiveness. This is clearly a problem when praying, and a pollution of the heart that is sinful. James’ verses are familiar . . .
·      But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:6–8)
·      Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8)

The mind of Christ has all those good sober-minded qualities. His mind is without any double-mindedness. God wants me to think as He thinks. For me, this is difficult. I could blame it on ADHD or just call it a human trait, but yesterday, after praying for singleness of mind, I found out that God can produce that in me.

The Bible says that Christians have the mind of Christ. It is clear to me that without His enabling, I cannot think like Him, yet this is the most amazing treasure. Instead of being stuck with my scattered thoughts as I have been for years, it is possible for me to be focused — not only on the tasks at hand, but on the thoughts of God. I am so thankful!

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