Improve your mind

Isaac Watts, the famous hymn writer calls us to be intentional about improving our minds.

…every son and daughter of Adam has a most important concern in the affairs of the life to come, and therefore it is a matter of the highest moment, for everyone to understand, to judge, and to reason right about the things of religion. It is vain for any to say, we have no leisure time for it. The daily intervals of time, and vacancies from necessary labour, together with the one day in seven in the Christian world, allows sufficient time for this, if men would but apply themselves to it with half so much zeal and diligence as they do to the trifles and amusements of this life, and it would turn to infinitely better account.
 
Thus it appears to be the necessary duty and the interest of every person living, to improve his understanding, to inform his judgment, to treasure up useful knowledge, and to acquire the skill of good reasoning, as far as his station capacity and circumstances furnish him as his station, capacity, with proper means for it. Our mistakes in judgment may plunge us into much folly and guilt in practice. By acting without thought or reason, we dishonor the God that made us reasonable creatures, we often become injurious to our neighbors, kindred, or friends, and we bring sin and misery upon ourselves; for we are accountable to God, our judge, for every part of our irregular and mistaken conduct, where he hath given us sufficient advantages to guard against those mistakes.”

 
~ Isaac Watts, The Improvement of the Mind, (1837).
[emphasis added]

Seek the One behind your blessings

After you’ve counted your blessings, and given thanks to God, do you go further? Do you seek to know better the One behind all of your blessings? On Thanksgiving Eve at our church, we looked at MICAH 7:18-20 — and were challenged to go beyond giving thanks….

18 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. 19 He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. 20 You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old. (esv)

The prophet here speaks of God’s great forgiveness and salvation and goes on to seek to understand the God who does such things for sinners. He presses beyond praise and thanks, to look behind the curtain of kind providences, to seek to understand WHO this God is, and what He is like.

His first and fundament tool is a mind that asks questions: Who is a God that does such a thing…? We would do well to ask the same question as we ponder our blessings: Who is this God, and why has He done these gracious things in my life?

His second tool is a mind that meditates on what he discovers: this God did not act in anger towards me, but showed me His lavish love — why??

Friends, may we follow in Michah’s footsteps, and follow up our giving of thanks with giving much thought to WHO God is, WHAT He is like, and WHY He does such things.

— pdb