“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)
A significant aspect of renewing my mind is aligning my heart – my intentions, desires, and thinking – with what serves and worships God (i.e., is within his will). In other words, I renew my mind when I find out and then do what pleases God.
Please God, Not Man
Many verses either speak to pleasing God versus pleasing man, tell why it’s crucial, and/or give the path for doing so. Reflection on a fair number of these verses helped me to better understand the connection of pleasing God over/instead of man to mind renewal.
- To serve Christ, I cannot be also trying to please people. I cannot have a divided heart. (Galatians 1:10)
- God entrusted me with the Gospel, so I speak to please him, the one who examines my heart. (1 Thessalonians 2:4)
- Social pressures can lead to people-pleasing and to wanting to appear a certain way. Refuse to love the approval of others more than the approval of God. (John 12:42-43)
- All the work I do should be done to please the Lord and for my eternal inheritance. I serve Christ, not other people. Yet, my service to him should be with a sincere heart out of respect for the Lord. (Colossians 3:22-25)
- Sometimes, what God wants me to do is not the same as what others want me to do, and they won’t always be happy when I choose to please him instead of them. (Acts 5:29)
- My life is to be “a living and holy sacrifice” that serves and pleases God and that is accepted as spiritual worship to him. (Romans 12:1)
- Respect (i.e., fear) – revere, serve, and follow – the one who holds my eternity, both body and soul, in his hands above those who can only destroy physically. (Matthew 10:28)
- Faith in God is difficult (impossible?) when I seek others’ approval and care about what they think more than or even instead of seeking God’s approval and having him be pleased with me. (John 5:44)
- My desire to please God should extend from now into eternity. (2 Corinthians 5:9)
- Everything I do is to be done to glorify God. No exceptions. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
- My will must be crucified; it is only Christ in me that now lives. This means that my earthly life is lived in faith in Christ because he sacrificed himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
- Aiming to please others and caring too much about what they think can snare me and hang me up, keeping me from making progress. Trusting in God not only results in progress but progress to heights far above what I could otherwise attain. (Proverbs 29:25)
- When I please God, he gives me peace with my enemies. (Proverbs 16:7)
- A big reason I need regular mind renewal is because I too easily give what others think of me credence over what God thinks of me. My thinking needs regularly refocused on pleasing God. (Isaiah 2:22)
- Trusting in the flesh dries, binds, and brings loneliness and despair. Trusting in God brings blessing, deep and continual refreshment, resistance to trials, and flourishing growth even in times of drought. (Jeremiah 17:5-8)
The how and the why of pleasing God are clear based on these verses. The motivation – the Gospel of Christ – is clear. Mind renewal involves regular recalling of the how and the why of pleasing God.
Elements of Mind Renewal
Understanding the role of mind renewal in the strengthening of our faith is crucial. Its elements and systems build habits that lead to increasingly operating in his good, acceptable, and perfect will. In general, those are:
- Refusing to conform to the world. Seek to please God, not man.
- Knowing what it means to please God. Consistently spend time in his word and in prayer.
- Staying grounded in the Gospel. Regularly return to the motivation and reason for your hope and trust for eternity.
These verses and others help us to not only see the importance of pleasing God instead of man and of regular mind renewal, but they also allow us to understand that the two are intimately linked. While Romans 12:2 is the crux verse for this revelation, many others in scripture can help us to see it as a system for living out our faith with habits and attitudes that please God.