“A noble and God-like character is not a thing of favour or chance, but is the natural result of continued effort in right thinking, the effect of long-cherished association with God-like thoughts.”
James Allen, As a Man Thinketh
The following article is meant to challenge your thinking. At the end of this article you will find a personal invitation.
Why study? Why stretch your mental capacity? Why bother foraging for food to feed your mind? As women we daily expend much energy caring for the needs of those around us. We tire easily from the routine. We become weary in repetition. We forget the importance of our part in this drama of life. We believe “book learning” ended with the receiving of our diploma and we think study time is for the student only. But are we not yet a student? Are there not yet things to learn? When did we stop being a student of life? When did we lose our curiosity?
The battlefield begins in the mind. Scripture is clear on this point. (Matt. 22:37; Isaiah 26:3; Rom 12:2; Phil 2:5) Why then do we allow this atrophy to creep over our mental muscles? (Atrophy: n. a wasting away of an organ, or a failure to grow to a normal size as the result of disease, faulty nutrition, etc.) So if our mind is the front line of spiritual battle, should we not shore it up? Should we not keep our mind in top condition? Just as the athlete must daily push himself with great discipline and constantly seek to stretch himself past his comfort zone, should we not, also, strive to use this gift of contemplation, thinking, learning and creating to its greatest ability?
When someone has a well-conditioned mind that is guided and controlled by the Holy Spirit, it is a beautiful thing. Just like anything else in life you get out of it what you put into it. When we shy away from things that are difficult for us we miss out on something very great: the learning of perseverance. Just because a book or an article is difficult to read doesn't mean you should put it down. In fact, most of the great works of literature are difficult to read, at first. But once you learn how to approach a difficult work and how to slowly move through it, you soon find that you have adapted to the language and style of that work and are actually enjoying the process of understanding the author's intent.
For example, open your eyes to the study of architecture and the spirit that moved men to create buildings of beauty. Learn of harmony and order from the greatest composers. Read some fantastic literature that challenges you to seize the day and make the most of your life for His glory. It is good to seek to understand the works of those who created in a spirit of truth and order. Holiness and diligence in character should be held in high regard. Study the works of good men. Give place to that which is good, pure and right, therefore throwing more and more lights on in the dark places of your mind. By filling your mind with good store there is less and less room for shallow, evil thoughts to dwell. As your storehouse becomes full you will find great pleasure in contemplation and meditation. You will find yourself less peevish and irritable. Boredom will not settle over your spirit when your mind is busy seeking for and sorting through knowledge of truth and beauty.
It is said of the child Jesus, “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.” (Luke 2:40) This forward progression in body, soul and spirit was good for the Lord Jesus and is good for our dear children, but is it not good for us?
How does one “wax strong”? In the physical realm it is through effort, repetition, and resistance training. Likewise in the spiritual realm, waxing strong is gained through effort put forth in obedience; repetition of trials aiming to increase our faith and daily reading and rereading the Word of God; and lastly through temptation-resistance training.
The phrase, “in spirit” is referring to that part of you that feels, thinks and decides. That, however, is the second definition for this word. The first definition is referring to the person of the Holy Spirit. To wax strong in spirit then, I believe, is referring to setting the stage of our mind to enable the Holy Spirit to have free course in reining in and reigning over that part of me that feels, thinks and decides.
“Filled with wisdom” is a wonderful phrase. Do you know that it pleased the Lord to be filled with “wisdom; broad and full of intelligence.” (Strong's) This word, wisdom, is used of “the knowledge of very diverse matters”. It speaks of the knowledge of God's Word and the knowledge of His creation as well as other forms of study.
The reward of this? “And the grace of God was upon him.” And that wonderful grace was upon him! Grace: Of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues. (Strong's)
Imagine that! Giving free course to the Holy Spirit to move freely in your mind. You can expand His living quarters! Learn all you can about a variety of branches of wisdom and let Him dwell in each part, enlightening you to see Him in every truth. In science, history, literature, etc. there are lessons to be learned in all areas of life. He has given us the wonders of creation that we might learn from them. (Job 12:7-9) If we open up all the doors to our mind he can freely move about, expanding His reign. If He took the time to create it, should we not take the time to study it and allow this knowledge to increase our depths of worship of Him?
What are the three main areas in which we may seek to grow in wisdom and knowledge?
1. The Soul: That which is beautiful speaks to the heart or the soul of mankind. We can feed this part of ourselves through the study of music and art.
2. The Body and Spirit: First, the spirit: meditating on that which is pure raises our spirits to a higher plane. This part of our being needs a constant stream of the pure water of the Word. As our dear pastor once said, “I master this Book so that it may master me.” We also seek to keep our body, the temple of the Holy Ghost, pure through proper nutrition and exercise. Discipline in these areas greatly affect our spiritual health as well as our physical.
3. The Mind: The light of truth and knowledge illuminates our mind and makes it a fit dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. We can draw back the curtains, exposing the dark areas of our small thinking, by reading and contemplating worthy thoughts of great thinkers. We gain mental capacity by systematically working through challenging material.
The invitation: Expand your influence, sweeten the fragrance of your life, and be prepared to handle the inevitable strains of life by strengthening your heart and mind. Sometimes a program of attack and some accountability are all we need to get started. I am planning a very gentle approach to moving our minds into a place of strength based on God's Word and on beautiful works written by noble people. We will be moving onward and upward together. I will not overload you with work. I seek only to point your mind towards worthy food upon which to feed and to condition your brain and body to sit still long enough to thoroughly digest it.
If you are interested in embarking on a course of study designed for women, please contact me. Times of instruction and discussion will be held in my home weekly or bi-weekly. You will pay for any books that need to be purchased, but much of the reading material can be found online. You may contact me personally if interested in studying along with a small group of women. email: firstname.lastname@example.org