Mantras, Bible Verses, and Change
Sincere believers want to change and become like Christ. Sadly, we have probably all at some point heard such people express frustration, disappointment, and despair at their continued failure to do so. Maybe you have experienced that yourself. What I have often seen is that they will take a Bible verse, or concept, and then recite these repeatedly, believing that by doing so, the problem will go away and they will change. They are repeating Bible verses like a mantra, in an effort to bring about whatever it is that is so desperately wanted. What they are reciting is true, as it is the Word of God. The problem is that it is not specific enough and it results in the lack of change.
The Mantra of Anxiety
Take the well-known verse Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV): “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”
Many people who are uptight, worried, or anxious may have memorized this verse and then wondered why they still tend to worry. Memorizing verses is an excellent practice that helps us have the Word of God in our hearts and apply it to our lives. It is the application of this verse that is the issue. It is not only about not being anxious, it is about trusting that the Lord will provide because he knows that you need the things mentioned, and about seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness. What I have noticed is that some people can have a tendency to not think what seeking his kingdom and righteousness means. The result is that the life-giving, life-transforming scripture is not having a dynamic impact on their lives.
The same is true of Philippians 4:8 (ESV): “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Change comes as we think about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. It requires some thought to know what things fit into these categories. For example, what is true? Our Lord is true, his attributes are true, his promises are true. It is as we specifically think about what is true, such as who the Lord is, that we apply scripture and we change.
To encourage each other to change and become Christ-like in our lives, we need to meditate on and apply the truths of scripture. As we do that, we will see the Lord at work and his truths will become a reality in our lives