Lately I’ve been noticing some thinking of mine that doesn’t match up with what the Bible says is true. I guess this is the process of renewing my mind that Paul talks about in Romans 12:2. We live in a humanistic culture, and it is easy to practice humanism without even realizing it. The essence of humanism is to start with ourselves (how things make us feel, what we want, the way we think things should be) and reason out from there, rather than starting with the truth that God exists in contrast to his not existing.
This is the way my children reason. Humanism is the religion of self-glorification rather than God-glorification. We are born into this religion and from infancy we want what we want, when we want it, and woe to anyone who stands in our way–even if that someone is God (or our parents, who represent God to us). And we do all in our power to explain God away so we can do what we want. Or, if we can’t explain Him away, we make Him into some kind of Santa Claus or genie who gives us what we want, or even an angry dictator that we feel we don’t need to obey (If you have children, you can probably think of ways your children do the same thing to you).
But if we start with the truth that God exists, and that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” then we will want to find out all we can about Him and how He thinks, and what He requires of us. We will fear Him, love Him and want to obey His word (with no modifications on our part to make it more palatable). We will hungrily devour the precious gift He has given to us in the Bible (God’s word is sweet like honey). We will remember that we are only unworthy servants who deserve His wrath. Our hearts will well up with gratitude that He would love us and send His son to die for us, and we will joyfully serve Him even when it is difficult–we deserve much worse than anything we suffer.
It is amazing that God would die for a people who are so self-serving and ever forgetful of Him–I am speaking of myself. But He did, and He calls us to repent of our sins and be forgiven so He can be our God and we can be His people. And He is a loving God, so being His child is wonderful! We can only ever love Him at all because He first loved us. The greatest sin is not loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and even though God has saved me, I still battle with this sin every day.
So my challenge to myself is to evaluate every thought I think, and every thought I hear, instead of automatically accepting it for truth. I don’t always do this, and things get past the radar frequently. But I am trying to be more purposeful about it: Does this glorify God? How? Or why not? How will God be glorified if I do this thing? Does this catchy quote or trendy teaching agree with what the Bible teaches? What is the starting point for this theory, or idea? God or man? Does this put the focus on God and on serving others or does it draw attention to me or man in general? Am I being selfish or prideful, or am I putting God and others before myself? Most of the time if I am angry or depressed it is because I am not getting something I want.
[Once in a while I feel tempted to anger and depression because of some physical problems which cause chemical imbalances in my brain, but here again is an opportunity to ask questions and choose the response which most glorifies God. God’s grace is sufficient for us in our weaknesses, and He is able to give us self-control. I know this first hand. Physical problems present many temptations to sin, but they are never an excuse for our sin. And really, even when I am less able to deal with life because of an imbalance, the triggers for the anger or depression are still selfishness, laziness, pride, etc. The mess, kids who won’t obey, whatever. I want ease and comfort. I want being the key words. I want what I want when I want it, which is right now. I must choose between God’s glory and my comfort. I must not rebel against God, no matter how lousy I feel. I don’t think Jesus enjoyed hanging on the cross, enduring the wrath of His Father. But He did it anyway. He loved His Father and His glory was His greatest concern. Paul never allowed his “thorn” to be an excuse for his sin (though I am sure he sinned just like we do–he considered himself to be the worst of sinners). He actually boasted in his weaknesses because it was in them that Christ was most glorified.]
We have to be so careful about what we read and listen to. Much of what is in Christian bookstores today is man-centered rather than God-centered. Even in some churches the teaching is man-centered instead of God-centered. And often parts of the Bible are forbidden because they are deemed irrelevant for our times. We have got to read the whole Bible, again and again, because it is so easy to forget what it says and then be deceived by unbiblical thinking.
So that’s my challenge, for myself and for you: Start with God. Start with His word. Otherwise we will unwittingly be practicing humanism, and that is not something I want to do!