In my elementary school students received report cards tucked in an envelope which held the grades for that period. My report card always held straight A’s – except for one. There was a fifty-fifty chance every grading period that I would have a B in Conduct. Along with the mark was often a remark made by my teacher that if only I could learn to be quiet, I’d have potential in excelling in other areas. However, I had determined in my mind that chatting with friends was much more important to me!
Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34) and every outward behavior that comes forth from an individual has its root in that person’s mind. Our minds are a marvelous work and a testament to God’s creativity, order, and sense of humor. It’s what distinguishes the one with mental fortitude from the one who collapses in timidity – in response to an identical circumstance. The mind is the battle ground. What thoughts dominate the mind are the behaviors that will dominate your life.
Paul writes, “…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).” Our conduct will be transformed if our minds are being renewed. Note that this renewal cannot occur apart from the Holy Spirit, for a believer has received ‘…the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God… (1 Corinthians 2:12).” The battle being waged is more than neurons and synapses, the battle is spiritual. When a believer is transformed by this kind of renewal, it enables them to become a living and holy sacrifice.
Christ leaves us with His example of a perfect sacrifice in His work on the cross and in how He conducted His life. While praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, His soul was deeply grieved, to the point of death. Our Lord and Savior was in deep pain, mental anguish, and trepidation about the work He would perform on the cross. “Yet not as I will, but as You will,” is Christ’s prayer and mindset. Christ at this point determined in His mind that He would follow through with the Father’s plan. His death, and suffering for our sins on the cross were the result of the decision He had already made in Gethsemane.
After this intense prayer, Jesus finds His disciples (including Peter) fast asleep. Here was God in the flesh making the decision that would affect all of humanity for all time, and the disciples were faithfully checked out. Later we read in one of Peter’s letters, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13).” I can imagine Peter realizing in retrospect the opportunities he had missed to prepare his mind for action.
Yet living a life of godly conduct is not done out of compulsion but out of the renewing of our minds each time we commune with God through prayer, our constant dialogue with Him. It is a joy to live life under the authority of God, once we have acknowledged our utter dependence on Him. Our conduct then supernaturally, through the power of the Holy Spirit, flows out from what we’ve already determined in our minds.
My conduct was subpar in elementary school and I can only hope that my life will manifest increasingly right conduct as I learn to set my mind on heaven. With His power and His authority in my life (and yours) I pray that as believers our conduct would be, “…a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing…(2 Corinthians 2:15).”