A Reason Beyond All Reasons

“I have my reasons.”

All of us have heard that phrase, whether in the movies or maybe from our own lips.  Even if we’ve never spoke the words, we’ve thought them.  In fact, we think those words continously, every day, whenever we think or feel or act.

When we look forward to going into work, we have our reasons, whether we have them written down in a list (like I have) or not.  When we are angry because we lost out on a bonus.  Disappointed over a relationship.  Anxious about a test result.  Grieving from a loss.  For every single emotion & act, we all have our reasons.

You see, our “reasons” structure our entire lives, exerting a great influence over all that we think and feel and do.  We can call them reasons or mental models or self-talk or whatever we like— they are constantly at work, though often subtly, behind the scenes in the deep places of our souls.

Although we don’t like to admit it or may not even realize it, many of our reasons in life are shallow or self-centered or just plain wrong.  They make us feel foolish emotions and cause us to take foolish actions.  We reason “I need to feel secure” and so we strive to accumulate money for ourselves instead of meeting the needs of others.  We reason “I’m lonely” and end up in a relationship that we knew was wrong.  We reason “I’m empty” and fill up on food or drink or something more damaging.  We reason that we need to be in control and manage to make ourselves and others miserable in our futile attempt to have everything perfect.

Our reasons always seem, well, reasonable to us.  We are daily using our mental models to justify our behavior. If we get a higher paying job opportunity away from family & friends, we’d be foolish not to take it.  If that church project would make us give up a summer vacation, well, of course we need some time to relax.  If we really love each other, it doesn’t matter whether we’re married before we sleep together.

Don’t automatically assume that all the reasons operating in your mind at this moment are right, just because you are a Christian or love God or are a “good person.”  In fact, I can guarantee that they are not.  We all have many faulty mental models, both from absorbing the warped world all around us and the twisted thinking of our own sin-stained minds.

We all need work, a lot of work, to renew our minds.  Part of how we grow more like Christ is the process of taking on the mind of Christ, having our thought processes align with His.  Paul speaks of this in several passages, especially 2 Corinthians 10:5—

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ

Hebrews 4:12 speaks of how the Spirit uses the words of Scripture to open up even the deep places in our souls:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

It would be great to have “five simple steps” that would give us a mind perfectly aligned with Christ, so that every thought and intention of our hearts becomes pure and perfect.  The only problem is that there is no such list.  The renovation of our hearts is not so simple, not so easy.  It is a lifetime process for all of us.

But as the old saying goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.  So here’s one step you can take today:

Look at how the Apostle Paul lived his life.  In 1 Corinthians 9 Paul described his thoughts and reasons for his life and his actions.  At the end in verse 23 he summed it up by stating:

I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

That was Paul’s reason for all that he did— “for the sake of the gospel.”  Paul was single-mindedly fixated on making Jesus Christ known to others in all His fullness, glory, beauty and love, and guiding them to walk with Him.  He had one supreme reason beyond all other reasons in his life.

cross by wingnutAA via flickrIf you are a Christian, I challenge you to use the sake of the gospel as the reason for everything in your life.  If you stay in shape, don’t let it be so you can look good or so you can live a long life.  Those are good things, and if they come with the exercise well and good, but let your motivation be for the sake of the gospel, so that you can minister to more people with a healthy body.

If you marry, don’t do it for love or companionship or children or security or money.  God may or may not grant those things to you, but make the decision and keep your vow for the sake of the gospel.  If you take a new job offer, don’t let it be for prestige or power or money, but let it be for the sake of the gospel.  If you buy new shoes, if you go on a mission trip, if you go over to a friend’s house, let anything and everything be for Christ and His Kingdom.

Let that sink in, and let it blow your mind.  Think of what it would mean to live every minute empowered with a reason beyond all reasons.  Think, with Paul, of the blessings of striving with all your being to bring “every thought captive” to the single focus of making Christ known and loved and followed, both in your life and in the lives of others.  If you decide to do everything for the sake of the gospel, It will surely change your life, both today and for all eternity.

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