What Mindset Means
Your mindset can refer to your way of thinking or the basic disposition of your heart. It is revealed through the values governing your life and through the actions you take to achieve your goals.
The Problem with the Carnal Mindset
David describes the human mindset in Psalm 14:1–3, as he looks at the depravity of all of humanity and comes to the conclusion that “there is none who does good.”
Do we see the people around us through the eyes of the psalmist, or have we let ourselves be distracted by their good deeds? After all, we all know people who are always ready to help and who spend a lot of time and effort on charitable projects.
The Bible shows us where the human mindset comes from. Because of Adam’s fall into sin, all people sin. They live according to their carnal (or fleshly) nature, not only turning away from God but also rebelling against His order; their mindset is one of hostility toward God (Romans 8:5–7). In chapter one, he describes them as people whose thinking has become futile (Romans 1:21).
Signs of a Carnal Mindset
1. Striving for Independence
The search for knowledge and novelty has led humanity to invent a wide variety of ingenious tools and techniques that make life easier for us in many respects. With one discovery giving rise to another, wealth has been growing from generation to generation, and where we used to be dependent on the help of a neighbor, friend, or relative, we now see a strong tendency toward independence. A good income affords us a variety of everyday conveniences, making it less likely for us to ask other people for help.
The common phrase “We’ve got this” clearly reveals a mindset of independence from God—we can do it on our own!
2. Desiring and Pursuing Money and Possessions
It is in our nature to take care of ourselves and our families. We feel the need to earn an income that lets us meet the family’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter.
Unfortunately, in our current society, this desire for material goods far exceeds our basic needs. The shelves in our stores are brimming with goods. The goal of advertising tries to make us desire these products, and because human nature is geared toward comfort, we often let ourselves be swayed, buying more than we otherwise might.
Businesses are constantly trying to improve their products and fan consumer demand for the latest gadget. People simply go shopping, even when they do not really need anything, and rarely return empty-handed from this modern diversion.
Alienated from God, people try to fill their spiritual void with things that give them joy. However, because the soul cannot be satisfied with earthly pleasures, the effects of this shopping therapy are short-lived, leading to yet another trip to the mall to recapture that feeling. This is how many people end up getting caught in an unending consumer binge.
God’s Word clearly teaches that everything tangible will pass away. Furthermore, we will not be able to take any of our wealth or riches into eternity after our physical deaths. To keep us from making any mistakes in this regard, God has left us the instruction: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
3. Needing Security
By security, I don’t mean the basic need for protection from danger, but rather the desire to secure our current high standard of living for the future, for example by investing our disposable income. People invest their money in precious metals, in real estate, in the stock market, or in collectors’ items such as watches, postage stamps, and the like.
However, the current crisis sparked by the novel coronavirus and the accompanying economic recession teaches us clearly that many of these things cannot provide the security they promised.
The Bible describes the current situation in 1 Thessalonians 5:3, warning, “For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.” By contrast, children of God can be joyfully confident that their future is secured by His promises.
4. Longing for the Good Life
A good education enables us to earn a good income. When our basic needs are met, our focus shifts to our free time, where we can spend a lot of money and time on hobbies. Short trips and multiple longer vacations to faraway countries have become a matter of course for large parts of the population, and people often place more value on their leisure time than on earning their daily bread.
We expect our careers and jobs to be fun. Everything revolves around us, and we are all supposed to live happy, fulfilling lives while realizing our goals and dreams.
Dear reader, what values define your mindset? Have you surrendered your life to the Lord Jesus, or do you reject His plan for your life? As a follower of Jesus, you are confronted with the carnal mindset on a daily basis. Have you let yourself be influenced by the spirit of the times?
The Blessing of a Spiritual Mindset
The author of Hebrews teaches that followers of Jesus are guests and strangers on earth (Hebrews 11:13). In 1 Corinthians 4:1–2, we are reminded of our responsibility as stewards, i.e. that everything we have belongs to God and not us. The opinion that we can spend 90 percent of our income while leaving 10 percent to the Lord is a false interpretation of New Testament stewardship. Everything belongs to the Lord!
God’s Word urges Christians to make every effort to meet their families’ needs while being content with food, clothing, and shelter. What God has given us beyond this provides an opportunity for us to invest in the work of the Lord’s vineyard (Matthew 6:25–34; Luke 12:15–37). We will be richly blessed when we let God’s Word guide us in this regard.
Living It Out
1. Dedicate your life to the Lord. If you have given yourself over to God, then He also owns your possessions.
2. Ask the Lord how you can put His will on this matter into practice. Ask Him for wisdom and guidance in the purchases you make. Perhaps it is time to look at the items you already own – are there things you no longer need that you could bless others with?
3. Listen to the Lord and obey, even if other people do not understand you: “Whatever He says to you, do it” (John 2:5).
4. Ask God to show you where your money is needed in His kingdom’s work.
I would like to close with a prayer by John Wesley: “Oh that God would give me the thing which I long for! That before I go hence and am no more seen, I may see a people wholly devoted to God, crucified to the world, and the world crucified to them. A people truly given up to God in body, soul and substance! How cheerfully would I then say, ‘Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace.’”
May God, in the abundance of His grace, grant us the desire and ability to fulfill His will.