Battle of the Mind

Solomon said in the Proverbs, "Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Wise words indeed.

The importance of rearing up a child properly, particularly starting at a very young age, is well understood in all circles. In fact there are major programs where famous intellects and the Einsteins of today are donating sperm to be given to certain parents to raise more geniuses, rearing them from the womb.

Naturally, when a person reads these words of Solomon, they almost automatically begin to think of little children, chronologically. But let’s take this same verse and go a little bit further into its spiritual meaning to understand the duality of its intent for adults.

To begin, let’s go to the gospels: "Jesus speaking to the little children..." and "Come as little children..." Now everyone knows you can’t go back in time to become a physical child again, so Christ was referring to the child within all of us. That child is our mind, our attitude—babes in Christ; Come to maturity; On the milk, etc.

When putting Solomon’s words with the words of Christ, we begin to get the picture of the newborn babe in Christ—that spiritual realm we entered at baptism—a full grown adult, chronologically, who begins his spiritual development from a small infant seed in much the same way as a young baby begins his development. Just as a mother nurtures her young, so does the Holy Spirit, through Christ, nurture the young Christian. However, for the believer this development begins long before baptism.

The mind is a powerful element, it is the guiding force behind everything we think, do and say, and just like a child, if left unattended it can run wild. It needs to be worked with because, by nature, it is basically lazy and unless you make it function, it will just sit there totally useless. The term "scatterbrained" might be fitting here.

As we begin our comparative study between a young child and the babe in Christ, you will see many similar problems as well as the same types of joy and pleasures.

Proper Environment

When raising a child it is important to have a proper environment. The old saying "birds of a feather flock together" plays a vital role. A child who is brought up in a house with continual yelling, foul language, fights and mental abuse, grows up with a mind-set reflecting these negatives, and will usually go out and find others of like nature where he feels he will fit in and be more comfortable.

The young believer must also seek the proper environment. He looks at his goals and plans for the future, and as he begins to examine his desires and nature, he also will be most comfortable with those of like mind.

Proper Companionship

Proper companionship in this area is essential. Peer pressure is stronger today than it has ever been. Doctors who have studied peer pressure have noticed a substantial increase in its influence even in the first and second grades of school.

Even the mind of a Christian must fight peer pressure sitting at home in his own livings room where there is no one else around. The T.V., magazines, newspapers, and yes, even the computers, are designed to place stumbling blocks in front of the young Christian, if we will let them. (Satan is the prince of the power of the air and this includes all types of media.) The Christian’s mind is starting fresh and it needs the proper materials to begin its development.

Proper Self-control

Here’s another popular saying: "I told that kid a thousand times." The mind will automatically revert back to where it is comfortable and will allow itself to get away with whatever it can. It takes determination and discipline to control it. Many times, the Christian will make the same mistakes over and over again simply out of habit until the problem is finally overcome. And even after one battle is overcome, the mind goes on fighting. Thoughts keep popping up like: "Go ahead, nobody’s looking" or "Just one more can’t hurt" or "Just one last time and I’ll stop." This spiritual battle is much more difficult than the physical battle ever was. The mind has become so comfortable in its own environment that it retaliates whenever subjected to a new environment, just like the child who is taken from one home and placed in another home.

The newborn Christian’s mind is in the same position as a newborn infant: it must start at the beginning to learn, step by step. However, there is one major difference between the two. The Christian generally has had years of misinformation which must be reprogrammed into its proper order, and this is a difficult and often painful process. When the Christian is baptized, the old man is buried, he comes up out of the water clean and fresh, without sin, just like the baby who has just come out of his mother’s womb into the world.

Now that the foundation has been laid the growing period begins. It takes discipline. Notice when a child is allowed to do anything, he becomes wild and unruly, he eventually becomes hostile and attempts to rule his parents. Many succeed in these attempts and control the parents. The stronger the will, the more difficult the fight. The mind of the Christian is no different; unless it is put into subjection it will eventually retaliate from the abrupt change at baptism and revert to its prior state. Even though the change has taken place, the mind will choose to have its own way. The old saying "He’s losing his mind" holds a great deal of truth in dealing with the spiritual battle in the mind of the believer. The mental institutions are full of people who have lost control. Thousands of others who have lost control commit suicide every year. Keep the mind in subjection. Don’t allow it it have its own way and throw its temper tantrums.

Discipline Your Mind

Begin with a daily mental exercise program. Exercise is vital to the development of a child. It keeps the body active and the blood flowing to the brain to keep it active. Find a subject of interest; the Bible is just loaded with thousands of interesting subjects. Now remember, the mind by nature is basically lazy, so when you read something, the mind says, "That’s interesting" and is ready to go on to something else. Make it stay there, let it earn its keep, make it probe the subject and not just accept it at face value. Prove it out, research the subject, ask lots of questions, find other information related to the subject. Study to show yourself approved to God, rightly dividing the word of truth (2Tim 2:15, KJV).

Here is another popular saying that fits here: "If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it." The mind is the finest and most powerful part of the body, so why not make it work for its room and board? Another applicable saying is: "If you don’t work, you don’t eat." If the mind isn’t actively working and probing, it won’t be eating anything and eventually will die of malnutrition. Stretch the mind. It actually enjoys learning new things, probing new frontiers or even just expanding the old frontiers. Christians become the same way. The mind, if given the proper nudge, enjoys creating things and learning about new and exciting areas. Just watch a child’s face the next time she comes to you with something she has just accomplished.

Have you ever observed a child watching a magician? Their curiosity overwhelms them. But soon, the mind begins to work and the inevitable question pops up: "How did he do that?" It’s something new; the magic doesn’t seem to conform to the laws which govern the child’s mind. He wants to prove out what he has just seen. The babe in Christ must do the same thing. As he learns new subjects, he is just overwhelmed and excited. He must learn to do as the child and ask questions.

Laughter and Rest

Another major area of development for both child and the mind which is often overlooked in our spiritual development is laughter and rest. There is a time and place for everything, including rest and humor. Pass by a grade school during lunch or recess and you can hear children running, screaming and laughing a block away.

The educators understood long ago the importance of proper rest and relaxation. Make a child study and work and practice all day long and he will become stunted in many areas of his life. He can become dull and bitter, lose his sense of humor and eventually strike out at others. If you search, you will find that most children who are termed "trouble makers" have lost touch with a sense of humor.

The same holds true for the Christian mind. It needs to laugh. Laughter is a necessary ingredient for spiritual growth. It stimulates the blood and activates the mind and when this simple process takes place the mind rests and is temporarily relieved of the burdens it is under.

Meditation

Laughter and rest open another door essential for spiritual growth and this is meditation—taking time to think about things that are important in your life. It is much easier for the mind to meditate when it is relaxed and happy. Find a place where the mind can be put at rest, somewhere quiet and peaceful.

The mind can really be productive if nurtured properly. During a meditation period the mind can reach out and explore the regions of your thoughts, develop ideas and even create new technology. The only limits it has is the limits we place on it ourselves. Remember, with God all things are possible.

By what method does the child learn to meditate? Most begin with daydreaming. Don’t stop the child from daydreaming as these dreams can help initiate him into future meditation. The daydreams simply need to be channeled into the proper direction. The babe in Christ is no different. He or she needs to spend time reading about the characters in the Bible and dreaming that he or she too will be like them: withstanding fiery trials, walking through the den of lions or overcoming some other major challenge.

Meditate on the things that are proper, good, just and honest. Be merciful in your thoughts about others. It is also important to be able to be merciful and forgive yourself for something you may have done wrong. Don’t spend the time constantly kicking yourself. Admit the wrong, ask for forgiveness and go with life.

Keep the mind in check during these periods because, as mentioned previously, it is lazy. Mediation makes it work, but if you’re not careful, right in the middle of your meditation, it will simply get up and wander away into some fantasy. Imagine how rude it would be if someone would just get up and leave during the middle of your conversation. The undisciplined mind can do that very thing. You begin thinking about one thing and before you know it, ten minutes have passed and the mind has been on another subject for that period of time.

Disciplining the mind is the starting point from which the babe in Christ can enter all the new and vast frontiers of Christian growth.

Beware of Impatience

One of the biggest hazards to all children is impatience. The mind is just like the kid on a long trip. Every ten minutes he wants to know how much longer. The mind does the same thing. It will nag you to death, sometimes very subtly, until it gets what it wants. In all of the areas discussed so far you will find the mind struggling to put things off—procrastinate—or to go wandering somewhere. But when the mind is being denied and told it can’t have its way, the battle is stronger than ever. The less the mind has been disciplined the harder the battle. Have you ever seen a spoiled child when they are told they can’t have something or they have to wait? You can have a major temper tantrum, retaliation supreme. The mind reacts this same way, with some kind of temper tantrum. It tells us we will just die if we don’t get it right away.

Start Today

Remember to follow the guidelines of proving out all things, because the youth’s mind is susceptible to believe things that are not true or real, just like the magician tries to do with the children.

If you have read this and felt that you need to work on your mind, and you will start first thing in the morning, then you just might need more work than you figured. You have just lost the first battle of the mind if you: "Put off till tomorrow, what you should do today".

—Morris C. Kerry Jr. (deceased)

[submitted by Jerry Laws]


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