Romans 8:5-6 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Define God correctly with the Bible and meditate on God's character each day. Then we practice that character to find what participation with it does. As we participate more with who God is we begin to grow our understanding and experience of God.
To grow with God we must grow with love. We ought to seek how to feel, think, and act with love toward all including ourselves. We keep in mind God's love is sincere, truthful, and impartial or just.
The Bible speaks of worship as bowing down to God. Are we spiritually bowing ourselves down to God in service to join God and be with God in God's goodness and grace? Are we humbling ourselves, letting go of pride, and showing mercy?
Growing with God means we will increase our truth and justice, being impartial and reducing our personal bias. We will identify our preferences, entitlements, expectations, demands, and desires that may conflict with God's ways. Then we can seek within our minds a new way of thinking prioritize humility, mercy, forgiveness, and peace.
If we are to grow with God we are also to grow in the teachings of Christ. To grow in teachings we are to obey the teachings, not just read and talk about them.
We are to grow in compassion and mercy. We are to learn how to recognize compassion, feel compassion, and grow our thinking with compassion. As our hearts, minds, and actions grow compassion it can change our relationships toward Godly good.
We ought to forgive in the ways Christ forgave. The goal is peace. Resentment, anger, discord within our minds and hearts conflict and interfere with our goal. We ought to learn within us a new way of perceiving reality where we can be free of anger. Life can have serious hurt and people can choose to create harm. Protection from that harm is important, but also important is to protect ourselves from the harmful effects of indifference and anger. Anger within us can hurt others around us.
As we read instructions from the Jesus and others in the Bible, we ought to consider ourselves to be included. We ought to make the greatest commandment of God our greatest goal. We ought to actively explore this command to see why it is good for us.
We ought to choose to actively seek, follow, explore, and find God.
It is too common where opinions are stated as facts and are too uncommon where critical thinking is encouraged. The Bible is full of deep thinking material. We can think a little deeper and understand it. We can practice discerning between fact and opinion especially when it comes to understanding and growing with God.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 NKJV Test all things; hold fast what is good.
To see things truthfully means we will need to remind ourselves the differences between facts and opinions. There are many ideas in Christian mainstream that are opinions, yet stated as facts. We ought to take captive in our minds these differences as they occur. Such phrases and statements can come about through music, movies, sermons, book studies, families, and friends.
Fact verses opinion discussions ought to come about within our own thinking regularly to develop a discipline of truthful thinking and discernment. It's easy to agree and go with the flow, but the flow could take us away from God's truth.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
The Bible is full of instructions on how to think and behave. There is one instruction that is agreed upon throughout the Bible and that is to love God above all else with all our inward parts.
That said, for our purposes, we ought to seek instructions within the Bible that can focus us into obedience with the great commandment.
Some great instructions from Jesus are in chapters of Matthew 5-6. If Jesus is the truth and the way then we ought to practice more of what He said to do. Our actions or inactions toward doing what Jesus says may say something about our faith. We can pursue the faith of Abraham, if we act with the faith of Abraham.
Following instructions is not the hard part. The hard part is convincing ourselves to do it. When new action goes against our habits our minds can resist. It's the convincing that gets in the way. Humbling ourselves to God as servants to God can help.
We all have preferences with food, music, sports, etc. Such preferences will unconsciously attempt to skew information toward our liking (confirmation bias)
No matter how hard we try we will always be partial in ways, yet we can decrease the amount of bias with the development of self-examination and corrective action.
Groups that avoid conflict that think the same things can be destructive (group think). We ought to be like minded, but changing and transforming toward God, the way the Bible describes God. A process of change or transformation requires new ideas and thoughts. We ought to be welcoming different ideas and perceptions that may help us improve with God. We ought to listen carefully to those around us who are demonstrating humility, sincerity, truth, mercy, forgiveness, impartiality, peace, and love. Such people might have some ideas about God.
Sometimes truth can come from others who are frustrated, irritated, or impatient. People who are strong in truth may have been ignored or rejected to the point of resentment. When there are situations when a whole group is moving incorrectly and one person can see it, the group will tend not to listen to that person. Then the rejected person might just leave or become angry. Listening to others who are impatient or angry can teach us things besides patient, mercy, forgiveness, and truth. Sometimes we can help that person toward Godly good. That person who obviously has a lot of passion may even make amazing contributions to the church.
We all fall short and fail. We make mistakes. Being Christian is to be conscious of how to improve. We set our minds toward God to learn from God and grow with God. We can shift our thinking more toward being with God and away from mistakes or wrongs. Focusing on our wrongs is only good to learn how to do good. Replaying mistakes within our minds over and over can keep our thoughts away from pursuing Godly good.
Matthew 5:48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (See how this ties in with John 15)
2 Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
The Bible describes God using the terms below. One way to understand how the Bible defines, "compassion" for example, is to read all the verses with compassion and learn the patterns. Through a variety of contexts we can better discern God's compassion and how we might better participate in it. Compassion, like other Godly traits, is intangible and best learned through experience.
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