“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
I remember a quote by Dr. John Stott saying something along these lines, “God is a thinking God.” God has a mind and we are made in the image of God. That’s why we have the capacity to think. He says “One of the noblest features of the divine image or likeness in man is his capacity to think.” Do you ever thank God that you can think? We’re not like animals, we have the capacity to think and reason. That’s because we’re made in the image of God and when we become a Christian thinking doesn’t go out the window. You could argue that you become a better thinker, right? You have to think more in terms of what and how God wants us to think in God honoring and God glorifying ways. Your mind matters. You can’t worship God if you don’t think. In Romans 8:5 remember he said something back there about the mind. The Christian sets his mind on the things of the Spirit. There is a determination and a deliberation. He sets his mind on the things of the Spirit. Here in Romans 12 we are called to an ongoing transformation by the renewing of our minds and that word “renew” is only used twice in the New Testament. It’s used one other place and that’s in Titus and it’s used in reference to the Holy Spirit. What does that tell us? Well, mind renewal can only really take place if the Spirit is at work in our hearts, right? We need the Spirit. We’re dependent upon the Spirit for mind renewal. It’s the Spirit who helps activate the mind renewal for us to begin to think God’s thoughts after him. Every day you would probably tell me this, even today that you have a battle that wages in the mind. We are constantly fighting and waging a war that often takes place in the mind. We have to wrestle, fight against how we think. How we think about ourselves, how we think about God, how we think about one another, and how we think about the world. I’m sure you know as well if our thinking isn’t disciplined, if we don’t discipline our minds then our thinking can easily be shaped by doubts, fears, worries, and suspicions, right? That’s almost as easy as breathing. One of the best ways to help us think properly about God, about ourselves, about one another is the practice of thanksgiving.
There is an inseparable connection between thinking and thanking, right? It’s impossible to thank if you don’t think. Without thinking there is no thanking. If we’re thinking biblically it should lead us to thanksgiving prayer. The bible is full of invites, isn’t it? To give thanks to God, commands to give thanks to God, to engage in what we call thanksgiving prayer.
Colossians 4:2, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” First Thessalonians 5:17-18, “Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Then you have Paul in Ephesians 5:20. Listen to what he says here, “Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So again he’s putting thanksgiving in the context of praying. So when we pray, that should be a dominate emphasis in our prayers, giving thanks to God. Notice what he says here, “Giving thanks always and for everything.” What does that mean? I don’t think he means by that we thank God for our thorns, or we thank God for the fact that our oldest son or daughter is diagnosed with leukemia, or we lost our job, or are going through a divorce. Those things should rightly bring sorrow and grief to our hearts, right? We are those who Jesus describes as those who mourn, blessed are they that mourn. We do grieve and we should grieve more than anybody else. But we can be thankful, can’t we? Not for everything, but in everything. I think there is a distinction there. How can we be thankful in everything? Well go back to Romans 8.
Paul hasn’t forgotten Romans 8 when he wrote Romans 12. Romans 8:28 explains why we can be thankful in everything. Listen to what he says. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” That means that everything that happens in your life is under the sovereign control of God. God who is always wise, always loving, always sovereign is accomplishing good in your life. Even when you don’t feel like he is, or it doesn’t seem like it, the bible says that God is working that out for your good. We can always be thankful brethren because God is always wise, always loving, always sovereign, and always accomplishing his purposes in our lives.