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If You Lie with Dogs, Then You’ll Get Fleas

In a number of different ways, the bible teaches with relative clarity that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). In other words, the process that the Holy Spirit uses to make us into new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17), is to shape the way we think. The reason for this is easy to understand. What we think determines what we do. It also determines how we feel (Philippians 4:8). It is one of the reasons that faith is so important to God (Hebrews 11:6), because what we believe determines what we think. Therefore, what we believe, ultimately produces behavioral results. If you think about bad things, you’ll be tempted to do bad things. If you believe bad things are good, you’ll behave in ways that are bad. Your feelings will follow suit! If you believe that God has saved you from a terrible state of sin, than you’ll love God, and you’ll avoid paths of sin.

So how do you renew your mind? There are many ways. The bible talks about prayer, which is a focused and sustained mental effort of communicating with God, and meditating on his ways and laws. It also talks about the importance of having God’s word in your heart (Hebrews 4:12Acts 17:11Proverbs 3:1-2Psalm 119:11).

But I think one of the best ways to renew your mind is to stretch your thoughts and challenge yourself by being around other people in your faith community (Hebrews 10:24-25James 5:16, and Colossians 3:16). I particularly like that Colossians verse. It commands us to teach and admonish each other in all wisdom. When we do this, we grow in both the renewal of our minds, and in the renewal of our behaviors. Goodness can’t help but be reinforced when we spend our time and efforts in a faith community that is intent on loving us and helping us grow. There is an old cliche that is full of truth: “if you lie with dogs you’ll get fleas.” If you lie with the world, then your mind will be infested with the fleas of the world. They’ll bite and you’ll scratch. It’s a miserable existence. But if you spend your time with people who are dedicated to God, you’ll get peace, wisdom, and maturity as they help you to continually improve your thought life by strengthening your faith, and ultimately changing your behaviors. It quite literally changes you from one kind of person to another. You may go from being a liar and a fool to a prophet and a sage, or from a sinner to a saint.

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