These are thoughts from my book Spit and Polish for Husbands:
2. A knight exercises his mind in order to keep his thoughts nimble, orderly, and disciplined against wandering.
- Many benefits of bodily self-control parallel those of mental discipline. A brain becomes flabby, in a sense, if it’s allowed to atrophy. How can we rightly divide the truth, defend the faith, and counter the wiles of the devil if our brains have turned to mush?
The mentally feeble Christian accepts what he’s taught without question. He decides to trust his pastor or a favorite television preacher, no matter how strange the teaching sounds. “Yes, the Bible teaches both predestined salvation and man’s free will. I know these ideas contradict, but we just can’t understand God’s logic.” Such a blatant contradiction raises an intellectual battle in his mind, but after this mental midget tries to brainstorm he accepts the pastor’s words. He’s satisfied with a breezy drizzle instead of a holy hurricane. He is not like the Bereans, who were noble-minded, “for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
We don’t need great intellects in order to prepare our brains for God’s service. Even if our IQs are lower than our body temperatures, we can still be ready to march as cerebral soldiers in the war against evil ideas and faulty theology. The first step is to read books written by great thinkers—interacting with their ideas, wrestling with their logical progressions, and questioning their conclusions.
A great book to launch such a mental quest is Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. Although Lewis delves into spiritual subjects with intellectual rigor, he writes on a level that most people can understand. Another good idea is to take time to sample more than one side of an issue. Read books from across the theological spectrum.
In order to really get our brains into gear, we could participate in a discussion group with other men who wish to exercise their thinking skills. We should choose wisely. We need to be with humble men of controlled temperament who are willing to have their opinions challenged, and who are genuinely seeking biblical truth.
We can also discuss what we learn with our families. As we communicate wisdom, we’ll discover new insights or even holes in our understanding, giving us impetus to go back and study again. We must not let uncertainty discourage us. This is to be a lifelong pursuit. Just as our physical muscles will waste away without regular workouts, our brains will return to their former atrophied states if their only form of exercise comes from video games or insipid television programming. With our bodies, as they say, “You are what you eat.” God help us if the same is true for a media-manipulated brain.
Categories: Thoughts from the Heart