What do you think of when you read the words of the title? What does “mind control” mean to you? You’re probably thinking about taking control of other people’s minds and actions… controlling your husband to take out the garbage on time… controlling your kids to make them behave… controlling villains to stop them from committing crimes and atrocities. But none of that is possible and, if it were possible, would it be ethical to take someone’s freedom from them in such a way?
There is a mind you can control. Your own. To paraphrase a piece of the Sermon on the Mount, “Before trying to control another’s mind, take control of your own.” Before we try to control our husband or children or neighbors, let’s first try to control ourselves. That is a part of the fruit of the Spirit: self-control.
Joshua, Moses’ successor and the leader of Israel, knew this. In Joshua 24 he gives a farewell address. He knows that his time is ending and so he gathers all the tribes of Israel together. He recounts all the things that God had done for them. How God led Abraham away from false Gods and a land beyond the Euphrates to the Promised Land they now occupied. How God gave sons to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. How God spared them from famine through Joseph. How God sent Moses and Aaron to rescue them from their slavery. And how God gave this land of Canaan back to them city by city over the last years of war. Joshua urges the people of Israel to control their minds and remember the goodness that God has given them.
Then comes the kicker in Joshua 24:14-15: “Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (ESV, emphasis added)
Notice whom Joshua controls. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua has given council and advice to others and, even though he is the leader of the nation, he still only speaks for himself. He knows that he is the only person he can control.
There are two ways that we can control our own mind. First, give thanks for what we have. We are often so focused on what we don’t have that we forget to thank God for what He has given. Control your mind to count your blessings every day. Second, read God’s Word. Start with a Gospel. Read the words of Jesus. Let them bless you, challenge you, convict you, and forgive you. The more time you spend in God’s Word, the more you will find your mind shaped by it.
I know this isn’t’ easy but we have a Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom we will celebrate on June 5, the Day of Pentecost. He doesn’t control our minds either, but He does continually call us to walk in the ways of the Lord. It’s up to each of us to heed that call and do as He asks. Practice mind control on yourself, think those things that we ought to think, and do those things that we ought to do for the glory of Christ our Savior.