LESSONS INDEX

The Mature Mind

It is important that we are able to see clearly, because, accuracy in all that we say and do requires clarity of thought. For clarity of thought to come richly into our hearts, and thus our lives, we need to establish an honourable mind set. Most of the worlds woes can be traced back to the ungodly habit of supporting a destructive, inordinate bias. It's not only people in all walks of life that have this problem, religious groups too may be afflicted with stubborn points of view, even though they have nothing to do with the actual facts at hand.

Bias may be recognised when distortions are allowed to be the rule by which one makes choices. We know the distortion of vision we suffer from while driving a car with a dirty windscreen. And of course it's much, much worse while driving in the rain at night time, when the street lighting adds to our difficulty of seeing clearly, by exaggerating the distortion.

This 'exaggerating' can be likened to those people who will do their utmost to 'persuade' others of their point of 'view.' Pathological liars are fairly blatant in their insistence that what they are saying is true, even when their story is obviously false. This type of liar will simply continue trying out different 'stories' until they find one that is accepted by their intended victim. The apparent 'conviction' that they present with unabashed enthusiasm, is that which tends to blind the naïve, much the same as dirt on a car's windscreen distorts street lighting, making night-time driving hazardous.

To know the truth on a matter, we need to know the circumstances. For instance, once when I was driving not far from home, I had to stop and let these two donkeys finish taking their time crossing the road. I didn't let it bother me as I had plenty of time. Soon enough they got to the other side and I was able to continue on my journey. I don't know what you have in mind as you read this story, but the reality is this, they were not dopey pedestrians, but two actual donkeys. For whatever reason, some people allow their view of others to become judgmental, even though they have no right to do so.

John the baptiser let the people of his day know of a much better way:

4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make ready the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight. 5 Every valley will be filled. Every mountain and hill will be brought low. The crooked will become straight, And the rough ways smooth. 6 All flesh will see God's salvation.'" Lk 3:4-6.

The intended purpose of this is that, All flesh shall see God's salvation. Lk 3:6 . It's most encouraging for lovers of righteousness, that God desires that all peoples come to know the way of Godliness, so they may be blessed with the peace that passes understanding.

Their thinking concerning judging others needed to be corrected. This is what Jesus is saying in the gospel of John. So let us consider what He said about a man who was born blind:

1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" 3 Jesus answered, "Neither did this man sin, nor his parents; but, that the works of God might be revealed in him. Jn 9:1-3.

Yes, that's correct, it was Jesus' own disciples who asked Him this question. Jesus knew that His Father was using people with disabilities that the works of God might be revealed in them for His glory. How futile and woeful it is for others to pass unflattering comments upon decent people who are afflicted with difficulties. Also, let us look at the incident that Paul had with the viper in the book of Acts right after they had survived a shipwreck:

1 When we had escaped, then they learned that the island was called Malta. 2 The natives showed us uncommon kindness; for they kindled a fire, and received us all, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. 3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. 4 When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said one to another, "No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped from the sea, yet Justice has not allowed to live." 5 However he shook off the creature into the fire, and wasn't harmed. 6 But they expected that he would have swollen or fallen down dead suddenly, but when they watched for a long time and saw nothing bad happen to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god. Acts 28:1-6.

It is as they said, No doubt this man is a murderer, no doubt indeed! They were in 'no doubt,' how's that for surety? and there was no evidence at all, but to them, No doubt this man is a murderer. Then, after they saw that he didn't die, they went to the other extreme and, changed their minds, and said that he was a god. This, or so it seems, is the end result of trusting in one's own "wisdom" and probably, still in no doubt!

John the baptiser let the people of his day know that their complacency needed to be overcome;

7 He said therefore to the multitudes who went out to be baptized by him, "You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and don't begin to say among yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father;' for I tell you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones! 9 Even now the axe also lies at the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that doesn't bring forth good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire." Lk 3:7-9.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for his baptism, he said to them, "You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bring forth fruit worthy of repentance! Mt 3:7,8.

John let them know that there was no confidence to be had by simply saying that We have Abraham for our father; Lk 3:8, but that repentance was recognised by bringing forth, fruit worthy of repentance! Mt 3:8.

Encouragingly, there were delightful people such as Anna who did show the love of God in her life, Lk 2:36-38:

36 There was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher (she was of a great age, having lived with a husband seven years from her virginity, 37 and she had been a widow for about eighty-four years), who didn't depart from the temple, worshipping with fastings and petitions night and day. 38 Coming up at that very hour, she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of him to all those who were looking for redemption in Jerusalem. Lk 2:36-38.

It's always a great delight to come across people like Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, who like other humble and delightful souls, looked to God Himself for comfort, and not the self promoting worldly people, some of whom John called, You offspring of vipers, Mt 3:7. And just like the Gentiles, the Jews themselves had to be baptized, no exceptions, it's as Paul said;

"for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;" Rom 3:23.

It is Jesus Himself who teaches, "take no confidence in material success":

15 He said to them, "Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man's life doesn't consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses." 16 He spoke a parable to them, saying, "The ground of a certain rich man brought forth abundantly. 17 He reasoned within himself, saying, 'What will I do, because I don't have room to store my crops?' 18 He said, 'This is what I will do. I will pull down my barns, and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 I will tell my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years. Take your ease, eat, drink, be merry."' 20 "But God said to him, 'You foolish one, tonight your soul is required of you. The things which you have prepared—whose will they be?' 21 So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." Lk 12:15-21.

After Jesus had taught them not to put their trust in material riches, He finishes by saying to the unwise man, You foolish one. No one likes to be called foolish, not by anyone, but to be called such by the God of Heaven is surely the most devastating! And how many there are who trust in their work of service to gain acceptance, and thus salvation, the very thing that the apostle Paul avoided during his life of loving service;

"but I beat my body and bring it into submission, lest by any means, after I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected." 1 Cor 9:27.

And as Paul later went on to say;

"But now faith, hope, and love remain—these three. The greatest of these is love." 1 Cor 13:13.

Jesus came to let the people of his day know their fruit bearing needed to be corrected;

6 He spoke this parable. "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it, and found none. 7 He said to the vine dresser, 'Behold, these three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and found none. Cut it down. Why does it waste the soil?' 8 He answered, 'Lord, leave it alone this year also, until I dig around it, and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit, fine; but if not, after that, you can cut it down.'" Lk 13:6-9.

The apostle Paul identified the fruit produced in the lives of the righteous:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let's also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let's not become conceited, provoking one another, and envying one another. Gal 5:22-26.

After quite a few hundred years of the Law of Moses, many still hadn't come to understand that the greatest thing for anyone to do is to bear the fruit of the spirit in their personal lives. But Paul, the one who was once an enemy of the Lord's people, came to realise, and then put into practice, the teachings above in the Galatians letter.

However, Paul was a realist and knew that some would do anything except that which is morally and spiritually correct as we may see below, where Paul has listed the things which are opposite to the Godly way of the Spirit:

1 But know this, that in the last days, grievous times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 without natural affection, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; 5 holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof. Turn away from these, also. 6 For of these are those who creep into houses, and take captive gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2 Tim 3:1-7.

We need to understand that corrupt people will always be with us; though not of us. However, we do need to be aware that there will always—we hope, always be those noble souls who, like those coming to John the Baptiser asked what they could do to be in a right relationship with the Lord God of Heaven, again:

10 The multitudes asked him, "What then must we do?" 11 He answered them, "He who has two coats, let him give to him who has none. He who has food, let him do likewise." 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, "Teacher, what must we do?" 13 He said to them, "Collect no more than that which is appointed to you." 14 Soldiers also asked him, saying, "What about us? What must we do?" He said to them, "Extort from no one by violence, neither accuse anyone wrongfully. Be content with your wages." Lk 3:10-14.

And not only people in Jesus' day were in the habit of making unjustified judgements upon others, even in our own day this sort of thing still happens, eg, I was asked by a brother in the church if I thought that he and his wife were guilty of sinning against God. What had brought this on was the fact that they had suffered the sadness of being the knew parents of a baby with a tragic disability. He didn't say how many were of this opinion, but it was enough to cause a great deal of distress to him and his wife. It's sad enough when a much awaited baby is less than perfect, but how much more is the distress when others make unwise, heartless statements that increases their pain unnecessarily. (Remember the man born blind? Things haven't changed much have they?)

In reply I gave this illustration, "An honourable man was walking along the footpath one day, going about his lawful business. When a drunk driver mounted the footpath and hit him, injuring him very badly. The question is this, 'was it sin that caused the pedestrian to suffer?' Well yes, of course it was, however it wasn't the sin of the pedestrian himself, but the sin of the drunk driver." And remember, all of us are sinners in God's eyes, and if God was going to punish us according to our sinful nature, we wouldn't have a chance. But the good news is;

For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. Jn 3:16.

Clarity of mind can only be achieved by those who, hunger and thirst after righteousness, Matt 5:6. Many years after Jesus had uttered these words, the apostle Paul had this to say in his letter to the Romans,:

1 Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 Don't be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God. Rom 12:1,2.

Do you want clarity of mind? Well then, heed this message of wisdom from the apostle Paul;

"...be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God." Rom 12:2b.

And you too, will be a joyful recipient of, The Mature Mind, with its very rich, and desirable blessings; clarity of thought, speech, and action. Amen, and Amen.



LESSONS INDEX