Memo 989: You-Turn
Three more weeks to go in the Unlocking the Power of Your Thinking and I plan on finishing the series the way the Bible ends—by looking at the book of Revelation. You may think that's an unusual place to go to talk about thinking, and I thought the same when I had the idea. I believe it is God's leading, however, but you be the judge as we proceed to Revelation 2.
After a brief introduction in Revelation, Jesus evaluated seven churches giving them specific feedback into the reality of their spiritual condition. He commended some but rebuked others, ending all seven messages with the same phrase, "Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious . . ." He then made a promise for those who heard and were victorious. We will examine those promises in the next few chapters, but for now, let's look at His comments to the Ephesian church: "Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place" (Revelation 2:5). Let's look at the word or command used twice in that verse and that word is repent.
When you hear the word repent, what are your thoughts? For some, it represents contrition or sorrow for sin and if that is what you think, you are not wrong. Yet the literal meaning of the Greek word for repent metanoia is "to change one's mind or attitude about." What happens when you change your mind? It means you think differently about something. Another definition of repent is to "turn and go in another direction." So when you change your mind about something, it should impact your behavior and take you in a new direction. God told the Ephesians to repent and do the things they did at first. Their change of mind was to impact their behavior and deeds. In essence Jesus advised them to make a U-turn and walk a different path.
EARS TO HEAR
For the Ephesian church, having "ears that hear" seems to have been connected to their willingness to repent. If they were not willing to address their thoughts, their ears would be closed and they would not inherit the promise, which for them was "I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God" (Revelation 2:7). When we don't repent, we too become hard of hearing and we forfeit the benefits of the tree of life as it was portrayed in Genesis. When that happens, God does not direct our work as He did in the Garden. Instead, we pick and choose what we will do and how we will do it. We may be faithful but we are not flexible, and we only know to move in one direction.
Jesus had warned His disciples long before Revelation was written that they needed to be careful how they heard. We read in Luke 8:8, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear." That warning came at the end of the parable of the sower which taught that unless we adjust our heart condition, we will not be able to receive the word or to bear fruit from the word we receive. Like the church in Ephesus, we need to regularly repent of those things mentioned in Luke 8:
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature" (Luke 8:11-14, emphasis added).
Do you need a "you-turn"? Do you need a change of thinking or attitude? Have the cares and worries of this life choked out your thoughts of God? Has a recent testing of your faith led to a "falling away" of your zeal and enthusiasm, similar to the conditions in Ephesus? Are you doing the deeds you've always done but in need of getting back to "the deeds you did at first"? If you answer is yes to any of those questions, then the word for you is repent. You need to turn and go in a different direction but you won't be able to do that until you address your thoughts and attitudes.
This week, think about what it will take for you to make a "you turn." Whatever it takes, I promise you will not change direction until you change your thinking. If and when you do, you will unlock the power in repentance—and that will earn you all the promises of God in Revelation for those who overcome. Have a blessed week.