REASONING (Article) by Abidan Shah, PhD
(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on September 7, 2023)
When my kids were small, one of their favorite movies was The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The older I became, the more I noticed how many people remind me of Eeyore the Donkey—always a pessimistic, gloomy, and glass-half-empty kind of mindset. It’s very easy to take on a negative perspective on life, especially when it comes to people. But God’s desire for us is to counter such thoughts, reasoning our way to the mind of Christ.
In the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul encourages the church to find the peace of God by reasoning their minds to a higher perspective. (As an aside, I’m actually writing this article from Philippi right now!) Paul says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
Until we understand the mind of Christ, we cannot see people or situations differently. There are several key Greek words that Paul uses to demonstrate how to think with the mind of Christ.
- “Alethes”—whatever things are true. There will always be people who lie to you—or lie about you. Our natural response is to confront them, but it is almost always better to meditate on the truth in the person of Christ. John 14:6 where Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
- “Semnos”—whatever things are noble. People will try to shame you or act shamefully towards you. Shame is the opposite of glory. Our natural inclination is to avoid feeling shame at all costs. But 2 Corinthians 4:6 reminds us: “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
- “Dikaios”— whatever things are just. People love to fight for justice, and there is a place for that. But think about Jesus, who took God’s justice and offered us mercy. Ephesians 5:2 says “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
- “Hagnos” – whatever things are pure. Everyone has faults, but we worship a God who has none. Jesus was the perfect and spotless Lamb of God. He was pure. In Acts 3:14, Peter said, “But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you.”
- “Prosphiles – whatever things are lovely—This does not simply refer to aesthetic loveliness. Jesus was probably very plain and common looking…not much to look at. And yet, he demonstrated His Father’s glory. Isaiah 53:2-4 says “He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him…Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.”
- “Euphemos”– whatever things are of good report. Everyone wants to hear the bad report. We have entire industries dedicated to spreading gossip and bad news. But Jesus brought the good report of salvation, especially as John the Baptist asked him.
- “Arete” – if there is any virtue. Jesus demonstrated one godly virtue after another.
- “Epainos”— and if there is anything praiseworthy. Think about Jesus. Even his very existence is worthy of our praise! Revelation 5:11 says, “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
In order to rejoice, you must choose to focus on your heavenly citizenship values. It doesn’t come naturally. You must allow the Holy Spirit to transform your mind into the mind of Christ. And the promise is clear—Philippians 4:9 says “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”