Our Mental Health
See full series: lights-in-a-dark-world-2019
Our Mental Health
Sermon by Thomas Thornhill Jr
Sunday, July 28, 2019 am
SHINING AS LIGHTS IN A DARK WORLD (26)
Examples In Every Area
We are in the midst of addressing various aspects of our lives that we need to consider as we bring every thought and action into captivity to the obedience of Christ. We consider these things as they affect our influence in the midst of this dark world. We have addressed the church and its influence in our lives, the Christian and money, and devoted the last to lessons to our physical health. We have seen how these areas can affect our influence toward others. Today I want to continue an examination of our health, but I want to focus on our mental health.
Mental health is a big concern today. We are living in stressful times with multitudes of pressures coming from every side. And as Christians, we are increasingly reminded of how our society and the world are becoming increasingly more hostile to the true faith taught in the Bible. Struggles with our physical well being often also affect our mental health – how we think about everything – God and His word, ourselves, others, etc. And as we consider the light that is to be shining in us, we ought to think about these things.
I. Thoughts about mental health
- The Bible has much to say about the mind – it is associated with our spiritual heart.
When we speak of the heart of a Christian we are addressing that which makes him who he is inside – not his flesh and bones, but his soul, his personality, his will. It is the seat of his emotions, thoughts, understanding and attitudes. It is what makes you – YOU!
Our mind (and heart) governs our conduct as Christians. Consider the following:
- Proverbs 4:23 tells us that our of the heart springs the issues of life.
- Matthew 22:37 – we are to love God with all our heart, soul and mind – the first commandment.
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.
- Romans 10:10 – it is with the heart that we believe in God, leading to our salvation
- Romans 12:2 speaks of being transformed by the renewing of your mind.
- Colossians 3:2 – Set your minds on things above, not the things of the earth.
- Hebrews 8:10, speaking of the new covenant (the NT), the writer notes that the LORD would put “My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts…”
- Add to this the numerous verses that speak of us being like-minded – meaning we think the same way – 1 Peter 3:8, Philippians 1:27, 2:2-3, 4:2, etc.
- Mental struggles are real. We all struggle with our minds from time to time – getting them to where they ought to be. It might be something minor or temporary, OR it might be something that affects us at the very core of who we are.
Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 speaks of the nature of our spiritual battle. It involves our minds and thoughts. In this lesson, I want to direct us to some things to consider that can help us as we deal with the struggles in our minds.
Having said this, I also believe that there are people with genuine mental issues and problems that sometimes require professional or expert help. In such situations, I would advise that you seek out someone who actually believes in God and will make diagnosis based upon that. In other words, you need someone who will NOT let you get away with sin.
BUT consider – Mental health is a big business now – there are psychiatrists (MDs), psychologists, sociologists, lots of drugs to deal with the effects of various mental diagnostics, therapeutic sessions and treatments, etc. Far too many at the first sign of mental struggles will go to a doctor or someone to help or cure them. I say before you do that there are a few things you need to consider.
- When it comes to our mental health, in many instances (perhaps more than we care to admit), a good look at the Bible with a determination to obey it will help one identify the cause of their mental angst. What I mean by this is that quite often we bring on our struggles (intent is not discussed here) that lead to mental health issues.
E.g. If you are guilty of some sinful behavior and it is causing you mental anguish, that is your conscience working (which God gave you). The answer is to deal with the sinful behavior and then you will have peace of mind. Yet many, with guilt, will go to a “professional” and receive therapy or medications to alleviate that guilt, or declare that they can’t help it. The problem: If you don’t deal with the sin, you may not feel the guilt anymore, but what have you done? You have damaged your conscience or buried your sinfulness. BUT, in God’s eyes, the sinfulness is still there. THAT’S THE PROBLEM!
- How can our mental health affect our influence?
- It has an effect on how we view ourselves – this is both the definition and the result. But when we think about influence, we first look at ourselves and scrutinize who we are. If we look down upon ourselves, are pessimistic about life and view ourselves as worthless it is going to have an impact on how we conduct ourselves and ultimately our example before others.
- It can affect how we view others – often times we view others in light of our own problems – failures and such. This can cause us to prejudge and react based upon that.
- Often times, bad mental health is reflected in our attitudes and our mood – bitterness, anger, impatience, mistrust, constant criticisms, confrontational, cynicism, grouchiness, misreading what someone says and jumping to conclusions, etc. These are the types of attitudes that turn people away and shut doors to future opportunities.
- Such things can also rob you of your confidence to share your faith with others.
- Thought: This is an area where we may not even realize the impact we are having on others. We don’t see our bad attitudes and responses as such. To us, they are a part of “who I am”. BUT if such turns people away without opportunity, should we consider that. Again I appeal to Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 – all things to all men. Do I think about how my attitude and demeanor affect others?
II. Developing and maintaining healthy minds
- We have to examine ourselves in this too – 1 Corinthians 11:28 – while dealing with the Lord’s Supper, Paul is reflecting on our MINDS as we partake – are we not discerning the Lord’s body, etc.?
Galatians 6:3-5 notes that “if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and he will have rejoicing in himself alone…”
Psalm 26:2, David said, Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart.
- Deal with the causes – IF there is sin affecting the way you think about yourself, deal with that area – consider the areas we have addressed – our finances, the local church, and our physical health – does our failure in these areas affect our thinking? What are we doing to remedy the situation? Are we willing to repent?
- Associated with this are the numerous areas we have also discussed – self-control, moderation, learning contentment, humility, endurance, etc. We will not revisit these at this time.
MASTER these two steps, and our troubles will likely be exponentially decreased.
- Realize that mental struggles are not necessarily sinful – as with so many things, it is HOW we manage them. BUT, many of them CAN become sinful very easily. An example is when we DWELL on such things to the point that it starts affecting our minds.
- What is your mindset? Are you determined to have as positive of an outlook as possible? Think of Paul and Silas in prison in Philippi – Acts 16:25. Think of his thorn in the flesh – 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, esp. vs. 9-10.
1 Peter 1:13 – therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you…
- What are you putting in your mind? Are you constantly dwelling on the negative? Are you associating with negative people? Are you engaging in negative activities (e.g. sinful – which you KNOW you will feel guilty about), such as watching the news or talk shows that are constantly critical, OR preachers and studies that do nothing but attack and tear down but fail to give solutions or build back up? Always consider Philippians 4:8 – “mediate on these things”.
- Be anxious for nothing – Philippians 4:6-7 – a powerful verse addressing our minds. This is a command given by Paul. It is something we must work on – cf. Philippians 2:12. NOT easy, but necessary! This text proceeds to give you direction about this.
- Let your requests be made known to God – pray about it. James 5:13 -16 – if suffering, pray about it!
James 1:2-6 – could the struggles of our minds be a trial? Note vs. 5-6 about prayer – if you lack wisdom (to deal with these struggles).
- Learn to trust God and “leave it there” – 1 Peter 5:6-7, Matthew 6:33. This is what our faith is about. Appreciate the grace and mercy of God. While this concept can be abused, I fear many of us fail to give God the credit He deserves, or to appreciate the depth of His promises, when it comes to His grace and mercy.
When we turn our cares over to Him, that is when “the peace of God that surpasses understanding” will guard your hearts and minds. (Philippians 4:7) PURSUE peace with God.
The challenge in this is when we think this is a ticket to sin and not do as we should – consider 1 John 2:1-2.
- Live your life one day at a time – work to not let your worldly future overburden you. Deal with what you CAN deal with right now. That was part of Jesus’ admonition dealing with not worrying. Matthew 6:34.
- Let your brethren help you – James 5:16, Romans 12:15 – we rejoice with each other and weep with each other. After all, we have the goals and ought to have the same care and concerns for each other. Who better to help you, that your spiritual family. Again the text of James 5:13-16 talks about the “sick” going to the elders. It might not be exclusive, but the text includes the “sin-sick”. Elders (whether the leaders, or those with age and experience) ought to be able to give you advice and direction IN CONFIDENTAILITY from God’s perspective.
Another thought: How many of us have increased levels of mental anguish because our relationship with our brethren is not as it ought to be?
These are a few thoughts as we consider our mental health. Perhaps there are other suggestions as you deal with this subject, but these should help us get started in the right direction. Our physical health- both body and mind have an impact on our spiritual well-being. Are we doing what we can to bring them into favor with God? Think about it!