I think the term open-minded can sometimes mean two separate things. It can mean teachable and it can also mean hopelessly confused. I think teachability is essential. No one likes people who are unwilling to learn. If you are teachable, people are drawn to you. Being teachable is the only way to get a job, the only way to build relationships and the only way to grow in Christ .
But sometimes we confuse having an open mind with not believing anything/ believing everything you hear. Not believing and believing everything are the exact same thing because they both leave you like a boat in a hurricane. What happens to boats in hurricane? How well can you steer a boat when waves have half of the boat out of the water? Not useful at all because it has no control. The Bible tells us that sometimes we can be like that when don’t have any foundation of truth (Ephesians 4:11-15). The reality is there are a lot of ideas and lifestyles that can’t all be good. How do we know which ones are good for us?
2 Timothy 1:4 says this “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” If you are a Christian, then you have been given a task to guard the good truth that you have. Why? Because it can get stolen from you. It happens when we let our guard down and allow ourselves to be lied to about things that we know are true.
I have hung out with numerous students in my 5 years as a leader at Vox. I have seen tons of students meet with God, hear God or see God do something amazing and yet- years later they don’t know if they even still believe in God. The crazy thing is that they knew God and knew that He was as real as you and I. But at some point, they let their guard down and lies came in to steal the truth that was there.
When you begin to experience doubts, the best way to guard your heart is to look back and remember what you know to be true. For me, I look back to all the times God has answered my prayers, to times that I have seen God move powerfully, to the places I have been where I saw God heal people physically, and to all the times I’ve heard God speak to me. Those memories become my shield against lies. Pray and ask God’s Holy Spirit to help you. The Bible says he brings all things back to your memory.
Always be teachable- but never drop your guard.
This question came up this past week in VOX and so we wanted to cover it a little more in depth. Slavery in your mind is not what the Old Testament calls slavery. We see a better explanation in Deuteronomy 15:12-18 of what’s going on.
People who got into debt or who could no longer support their family, would sometimes sell themselves to someone to help bail them out. So a person in debt would give themselves as free labor in exchange that the person paid their debts. Or they would work for half pay, as long as the master paid for the essentials like food, clothing and a place to sleep. Biblical slavery was created to help the slave. After 6 years, God would make the masters set them free. And, he made the masters give stuff to the slaves so that they left better off than when they became slaves!
That is definitely not the slavery we think of. We think of kidnapping people based on discrimination and forcing them into harsh conditions while being allowed to beat them like they weren’t human. But God says kidnapping and selling people is worthy of a death penalty in Exodus 21:16 (in 1 Timothy 1:8-10 he compares slave traders to murderers). God says that none of us are better than anyone else in Galatians 3:28. So color discrimination is completely anti-God. And so is getting aggressive (Ephesians 6:9)
Historically, by the time the New Testament was being written (40-90 AD), the Roman government wasn’t controlled by God-loving people. So while the Old Testament tells Israel how to help people in debt get free in 6 years the New Testament is different. The New Testament tells christian slaves and christian masters how to make the best of it until something changes (1 Timothy 6:1-2, Ephesians 6:9, Colossians 4:1).
See God is a God who wants to set people free. He says in Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Because God wanted our freedom, God sent his son Jesus. In Jesus, we can be free!
You have a giant paper due tomorrow. You haven’t gotten past the first 3 sentences. Instead of starting on sentence number 4 though, you find yourself noticing some dust on your desk. Thirty seconds later, and you are now 200% involved in the biggest cleaning operation your room has seen in years. You’re washing base boards, reorganizing your closet and decided that you’re going to repaint your room.
Here’s the major problem, we’ve ignored the thing that mattered most (the paper) for something that seemed more important in the moment (cleaning your room). We don’t just do it with tasks, we do it with people too.
In 1 Timothy 5, Paul is talking about how to practically take care of widows (verses 2-7). He was writing some good advice like: if the widow can live with her family and they’re financially stable, church people don’t need to give her money. Then, the very next verse says:
1 Timothy 5:8 But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.
The “but” is there as an interruption. Because just like avoiding our important paper, we sometimes forget that the most important people for us to care for is our family. And usually we do it because it’s easier. It’s usually way easier to comfort a friend than to comfort your parents.
All people have physical, emotional and spiritual needs. And we have responsibilities to help our families with these.
You know what happens when you begin to take care of the needs of those close to you? They begin to pour back into you. You’ll be more effective cleaning your room when your paper is finished. You’re a better friend, when your family is cared for.
Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about this:
I think there’s good reason for Christians to be physically healthy.
1. It makes you feel better
2. It helps you focus better
3. It helps you live longer
But, sometimes we get so obsessed with our physical workouts that we forget something.
1 Timothy 4:7-8 (MSG) says this:
“Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart.”
Running today is great. For today. But if you eat a piece of cake a week from now… that run is not helping. Physical health can only do a small bit to help your life.
Being physically strong can’t help you pray for a friend. Having a six-pack is completely useless when you feel broken. Having no tan lines means nothing when you want to encourage someone.
But training in godliness lasts forever. If you stay spiritually fit, you’ll be better at everything! Don’t get spiritually lazy! Take care of yourself! And hey, maybe do something physical too.