************ Sermon on Matthew 22:34-40 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 3, 2006
"Love God With All Your Mind"
I was making a hospital visit. As I was talking with the patient one of the cleaning staff came into the room. She stopped and looked at me and said, "You are one of us!" "Pardon me," I said. "You are one of us," she said. "I can see it." "What do you mean?" I asked. "You are a Christian," she said.
This woman caught me by surprise. After all, I don't see a halo around my head as I look in the mirror when I shave every morning. I suspect none of you see the halo either. Yet, she somehow saw something in me that identified me as a Christian.
Let me tell you about the time I felt and saw and heard the Devil. We were in a worship service and this man suddenly jumped up, went to the front, and started to yell at the elders, the deacons, the pastor, and the special music. He used words like "hell" and "damn." He made threats. His wife came behind him and tried her best to quiet him down. He stomped out of the building. The man ended up in a psychiatric hospital. Afterwards, when we talked about it, we all realized we had felt a dark presence, a brooding spirit. The man had brought either the devil or an evil spirit into church that morning.
What is the point of these two stories? The point is that it is possible for people to see Jesus in you. And, it is possible for people to see Satan in you.
Question: what do people see in your life? Do they see Jesus or do they see Satan?
We are Christians. Whenever people look at us, they should be able to see Jesus in us. But do they? That's the question I want you to answer this evening.
You all know the summary of the Law: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." I want to look at the third phrase this evening: "Love the Lord your God ... with all your mind." The fact is, if you love the Lord your God with all your mind then people can see Christ in you.
I Avoid Trash
A What does it mean to love the Lord your God with all your mind?
First of all, if we love the Lord our God with all our mind, then we don't allow our minds to be filled with trash.
-What do you listen to on the radio? What is on your Ipod? What kind of music do you burn on CDs? What CDs do you listen to?
-What do you watch on TV?
-What do you rent when you go to Blockbuster?
-What video games do you play?
-What magazines do you read? Do you drool over the swimsuit edition? Do you secretly page through Playboy?
-What sites do you visit on the internet? Are you into cybersex?
-What kind of chat rooms do you frequent, what mailing lists are you on, what do you write on MySpace.com, what kind of blogs do you read?
-What kind of books do you read? Books filled with violence, sex, and other action?
-What kind of friends do you hang around with? Friends who get you into trouble or friends who hold you accountable and help you in your walk with God?
-Do you fill your mind with thoughts of death, violence, blood, gore, mutilation, and revenge?
B What happens when we fill our minds with trash? We become so accustomed to certain impurities that they no longer bother us. For instance, we hear and see so much about abortion and homosexual behavior that we no longer think of it as being evil in God's sight. Or, we no longer realize we are looking at half naked men or women on the TV. Or, we become so accustomed to seeing adultery and pre-marital sex that we even begin to accept it.
The very next step, of course, is that we even begin to participate in the stuff we know to be wrong. The best example of this kind of behavior is Lot. He started off by living on the plains, keeping away from the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah. But pretty soon he was pitching his tent right next to Sodom. And right after that we find him living in Sodom itself. The end result was the loss of his sons-in-law, the death of his wife, and his own daughters getting him drunk.
C Jesus has bought us with His own blood. Therefore, we belong to Him. And we must be like Him. Paul says, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" (Phil 2:5). In fact, God's goal in saving us is to make us like Jesus.
Jesus is a man like us, says the Bible. But do you think Jesus filled His mind with impure thoughts? Did He allow hatred in His heart? Did He fill His mind with smut and bigotry and racism? Of course not! Jesus is a man like us but He did not sin. He kept impurities away. Like Jesus, we need to keep impurities away from us.
D To a large extent each one of us has to make a choice. We have to make a choice to put aside what is bad and wicked. To love the Lord our God with all our mind we need to consciously avoid and shun filling our mind with bad things. To love the Lord our God with all our mind we cannot fill our minds with the words and works of Satan!
Let me tell you what this means for today. This means we don't have to listen to or look at what is ignoble, wrong, impure, ugly, contemptible, inferior, or ridiculous. For instance, we can always choose to turn off the radio or TV. We can choose to disconnect our computers or put filters on rather than view cybersex. When we go to Blockbuster we can choose to rent movies without sex and violence. When we buy music, we don't need to choose music and lyrics that fill our minds with corruption. When we stop at the corner store we don't have to buy Playboy or Penthouse. When we go to the library or bookstore we don't have to take out the latest Romance Novel. In all of these situations, and more, we can choose something other than what is bad.
II Choose the Good
A Second, if we love the Lord our God with all our mind, then the opposite is also true – we need to fill our mind with good things. We need to choose our diet of information carefully. We need to discern what is best and fill our mind with that. We need to think about good things. Above all, this means we need to focus our eyes on Jesus and God and grace.
We have so much information available to us today from the radio, TV, videos and DVDs, newspapers, magazines, books, computers, the Internet. God tells us this evening to use these technologies to get in touch with what is true and beautiful. Use these technologies to find the kinds of things that shine with God's wisdom and goodness.
B Why is it so important to fill our mind with good things? I am reminded of the advertisement that used to be on TV. "You are what you eat" said the advertiser for margarine, pork, or whatever it was that was being sold. We can be a big blob of cholesterol, or we can be a healthy hunk of protein. Now I want to change the advertisement to fit our text: "You are what you think." You see, our thoughts and desires never remain as simply thoughts and desires. They eventually become reality. There comes a time when we live them out, when we act on them, when we become what we think.
What happens, for instance, if you fill your mind with thoughts of money. Chances are very good you become a grasping, greedy, materialist. What happens if you fill your mind with guns and violence. Chances are very good you will use violence on those around you. Now, what happens if you fill your mind with what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy? I think you know the answer: you will become more like Jesus; you will be a better person.
Fill your mind with great thoughts and desires and you will be more of the kind of person God wants you to be and created you to be. Fill your mind with great thoughts and desires and you are taking a step in loving the Lord your God with all your mind.
Love the Lord your God with all your mind. Fill your mind with whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.
C Where do we find such things to think about? The Bible is the first place to start. Where can we find anything more true and noble than words breathed by God Himself? Where can we find anything more lovely than the Lord's love letter to us? Where can we find anything more admirable and excellent and praiseworthy than the teachings of Jesus and His apostles?
This makes me think of what the Psalmist writes in Psalm 19 to describe the Word or Law of God:
(Ps 19:7-11) The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. (8) The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. (9) The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. (10) They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. (11) By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.According to the psalmist, in the Word of God we find whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.
If we want to love God with all our mind, do you know what we have to do? We have to spend time with the sweet, precious Word of God. We need to read it daily. We need to think about it constantly. We need to so immerse ourselves in the Word that we can't go anywhere and can't do anything without being aware of God and thinking of His Word.
D Where else do we find good things to think about? Look for good things. Don't just avoid rotten books. Read good ones that stretch the mind and lift the spirit. Take the same approach to TV and movies. There are plenty of bad shows we need to avoid, but there are also some good ones, ones that tell a good story and inspire noble ideals or are simply a delight to watch.
Those with computers and a modem need to steer clear of cybersex. But you can also use them to discover amazing things about God's wonderful and mysterious world. The same goes for music: tune out bad stations, and get rid of videos and music that are degrading. Instead, listen to music that stirs the soul and helps you to praise God.
I want you to think of your mind as a big empty container. What do you fill your mind with? What do you put into it? Do you love the Lord your God with all your mind?
III Trying Your Best
Third, if we love the Lord our God with all our mind, then we use our minds to always do our best.
Most schools today have two honor roles: the first has to do with academics, getting As and Bs; the second has to do with effort. Every Christian, when we think about it, should be on the effort honor role. Everyone who loves the Lord their God with all their mind should always be trying their best for the Lord. In fact, anything less than your best is unacceptable.
Do you try your best at school, at work, at home, in your volunteer activities? Do you try to be the best possible husband or wife, son or daughter, elder or deacon, Sunday School teacher or youth leader? Do you try to do everything to the glory of God?
IV The Truth
A Fourth, if we love the Lord our God with all our mind, then we use our minds to speak the truth and to stay close to the truth.
Some people use their minds to make up lies and to practice deceit and to figure out inventive ways of explaining situations. The other night on TV I heard someone described as having IED. What is IED? It stands for "Intermittent Explosive Disorder." Doesn't this mean the person has a temper, an anger management problem? But notice, it is now a disorder – as if the person himself is no longer responsible for his own behavior.
The language of disorder is being used today to excuse tempers, alcoholism, drug addiction, homosexuality, violence, and so on. It is bad enough when the world does this; it is even worse when those in the church do this kind of thing.
Those who love God use their minds to speak the truth, but to speak the truth in love.
B There are those within the church who also use their minds to undermine the authority of Scripture. Instead of submitting to what the plain teaching of Scripture is, they talk about the general sweep of Scripture. Or they talk about experience and gifts and feelings and let them take precedence over the Bible itself. Or they try to rationalize in their mind that what the Word says does not apply to them and their situation.
Those who love God use their minds to cling to the truth of Scripture and apply that truth to their lives.
Does God want you to love Him with part of your mind? Is God happy when your mind adores Him on Sunday but you don't give Him a thought the rest of the week? God wants you and me to love Him with all our minds, not some of our minds. Not just some of the time but all of the time. "Love the Lord your God ... with all your mind."
I repeat what I said before: people can look at you and see Christ or they can see the devil. Which do they see?
I want to tell you, if you love the Lord your God with all your mind, then people see Christ in you.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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