Keeping Christ at the Center
As autumn approaches and routines begin to reestablish themselves, familiar ruts and old patterns of behavior can become solace for those seeking rest from the chaos of summer. However, as the return to routine makes its seasonal shift, the opportunity is presented to establish a new, fresh focus on Christ and the central role He should play in the lives of Christians. Too often Christians make faith an accessory to life when, in fact, everything else in life should be an accessory that compliments faith. God and His word must be a filter through which Christians monitor their speech, their daily tasks and priorities, and thoughts.
Carefully choosing vocabulary that is edifying and encouraging is a command echoed throughout Scripture. Even in casual conversation, Christians are instructed to bring glory to God. Colossians 3:17, which says, “[a]nd whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,” plainly states this command. It can be easy to think that God is passive in caring about the mundane speech engaged in during the day, but He listens and He cares.
The Psalmist, David, understood the sacredness of speech and committed the matter to prayer in Psalm 9:14. He wrote, “[l]et the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord.”
God expresses His desire to be amidst all that His children do. When He gave Moses the tablets of stone on Mt. Sinai, the first commandment written on those tablets spoke to the importance of keeping God first in life. As priorities shift this season, working as unto the Lord, as Paul instructed the church in Colossae, should be at the forefront of the Christian’s mind. Ecclesiastes 9:10, a verse often quoted to children, is a simple yet powerful reminder that no matter what task is at hand, it should be completed with all the strength that the Lord has provided. Using gifts, talents, and resources to honor the Lord is a testimony to the world of the goodness and faithfulness of God.
While speech and actions should be to the exaltation of Christ, both of these things are birthed in the mind and in the heart. Without intentionally taming the mind to stay focused on the things of Christ, it becomes difficult to gain control of speech and behavior. The thought life, the place from where Jesus said our words and deeds flow in Matthew 12:34, requires perhaps the most attention from believers. Paul carefully instructs believers in 2 Corinthians 10:5 to “take every thought captive.”
Scripture reveals that Christians must filter all thoughts through the lens of God’s word so that nothing is able to take root that would be displeasing to the Lord. The framework for such a filter is given in Philippians 4:8. Here, as Paul leaves final instructions in his letter to the church in Philippi, he provides a way to winnow out thoughts that are harmful for spiritual growth. Keeping the mind fixed on these things is not easy when distractions come from anxiety, boredom, depression, and fatigue. But asking the Holy Spirit to act as a guide into a mind immersed in the things of Christ is a simple first step.
During the transition from the variables of summer to the methodical routines of fall, take time to refocus speech, works, and thoughts so that Christ is at the core. Develop specific actionables that can be implemented as checkpoints throughout the day to serve as reminders that in all things, in every detail of every day, Christ should be given honor and glory. Commit to prayer the areas that are more difficult to keep centered around the Lord.