Before we act, before we speak, before we do, we think. And God cares about our thoughts. In this lab, John Piper shows us how a maturing Christian ought to think.
Some questions to ask as you read and study Philippians 3:15–16:
- What do mature Christians tend to think about? Do you think about these things often?
- Read all of Philippians 3:10–16. In light of the overall context, what do you think Paul is referring to when he says “think this way”?
- How can you help others mature in their thinking the way Paul describes here? How can they help you?
Principle for Bible Reading
When studying the Bible, we walk on dangerous ground when we close our ears to other positions besides our own. We can read passages in the Bible and hold such a conviction that we refuse to consider other interpretations.
Others of us are tempted towards the opposite: We feel so insecure about our ability to understand Scripture that we refuse to hold any convictions about what we thought we read. Often, we won’t have any confidence in our understanding unless our favorite pastor, study Bible, or Bible teacher gives us an interpretation.
So we can err in two ways. We can be proud in holding right (or wrong) convictions to the point where we don’t consider the alternatives, or we can have a misguided humility which holds no personal convictions at all but exclusively parrots what respected leaders have said.
A better demeanor in Bible reading is to hold humble convictions. Wisdom from above is “open to reason” (James 3:17), and we ought to be open to reasons that our positions are underdeveloped or incorrect. When the best and only theologian that you know happens to be you, bad interpretation will surely follow.
On the other hand, the fact that we do not have perfect understanding should not paralyze us from holding deep convictions. Perfect understanding eludes all in this life, but the refusal to own our current understanding hinders us from developing better understanding later. Humility in Bible study does not refuse to believe things strongly; it refuses to close our ears when reasons — good or bad — challenge our present understanding.
Adopting humble convictions honors God as it enables us to not only understand but to believe his word and respond appropriately. We must first believe we know what God says in order to put faith in and obey him.
Therefore, stand before God as a Christian with convictions, asking him to lovingly correct you through other believers, his Spirit, and his word.