Do you have a sound mind?
“Of course,” you immediately respond. At least that’s how I responded. Until I was quiet enough to listen to the Lord’s leading on a scripture passage I have been studying for a while.
I’m going through a series called “God’s Beautiful Design for Women” from a ministry called Revive Our Hearts. The speaker makes her way through Titus 2:1-5, and as I’ve listened I’ve been brought to my knees, brought to tears and brought closer to God through my willingness to be quiet, to be still, and to listen.
I’m sharing some of what I’ve learned from the lesson.
Titus 2:1-5. Paul instructs Titus to instruct the older men and women to teach and train the younger generations. Part of this instruction for both men and women is to have a sober mind, and it comes from the Greek word sophron.
The King James Version translates sophron as sober in verses 2,4, and 6. The word is translated as discreet in v5.
Using a Greek lexicon tool, I found that the definition of sophron is: “of a sound mind, sane, in one’s senses” and “curbing one’s desires and impulses, self-controlled, temperate.”
This word is obviously multi-dimensional. Sober, discreet, temperate, sane, self-controlled. Of a sound mind, to have self-control over your mind.
- Do you find your mind rambling during prayer?
- Allow yourself to feed feelings of envy, anger, longing, even sadness? Allow gossip, speculation, harsh words, to flow from your mouth?
- Unable to muster the emotional strength to tackle that to-do list, even when you want to?
- Is it hard to discipline yourself to stop eating, to get out and exercise, to form habits or break them, to develop a daily routine, to indulge in less amusement?
- Do you crumble under pressure?
- Do you have addictions and vices? Are you impulsive?
- Is your mind easily swayed by what other’s say?
- Are you so concerned with what other’s think of you that you are unable to speak?
- Is it hard to have patience with your children? Hard to love your spouse and easy to flirt with that other man or woman?
- Easy to focus on negativity and other people’s flaws?
This listing is just a sample of characteristics that flow from a mind lacking sophron.
The speaker in the lessons I’ve been gleaning from mentions credit card and mortgage debt, emotional disorders, our addictive culture, etc.
We are instructed to have a sound mind. To have a disciplined mind. To control our thoughts which lead to action.
“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 1 Corinthians 9:27
This word, sophron, is an adjective, but I see it as active. A verb. It’s action. We are called to actively control our thoughts, and know when to say no. And when to say yes.
The speaker I listened to shared these definitions during her study:
- The Complete Word Study Dictionary: A person who has proper thinking is sophron, and that person has developed the ability to govern and discipline him(her)self—his mind, his passions, his affections, and his behavior. He voluntarily places limitations on his freedom.
- Vine’s Dictionary: that habitual inner self-government, with its constant rein on all the passions and desires.”
Without inner self-government, we will end up doing things we never thought we’d do. Things we, perhaps initially, never wanted to do.
Sexually, emotionally, physically, spiritually. They all apply.
I’d like to share something I’ve battled with due to a lack of sophron.
I tend to be melancholic. I’m also one of the greatest romantics. They usually go together. It’s very easy for my mind to drift to a state of pensive sadness.
I could provide many examples. I’ll briefly name a few. Sad music appeals to me. When I was young, I almost didn’t know what to do if I wasn’t pining after some boy.
If I let my mind wander, it often conjures up daydreams of what I would do and how I would respond if someone I deeply care about leaves me. (Dies.) It’s often brought me to tears and wrenching emotional pain.
My Grandpa Kelly died my freshman year of college. It was hard. It’s still hard. I still miss him. I don’t think I ever won’t miss him. It was the first death I had to personally deal with.
After his funeral, I was haunted. I’d cry every time I left my parent’s house on Wednesday and Sunday nights to go back to college. I was terrified that something would happen to them, that they would die and I wouldn’t be there.
When my family travels and I’m not with them, I can let myself become extremely worried.
When small things don’t go how I think they should, I get all bent out of shape.
I recognized these characteristics of fear, anxiety and control a long time ago. But this lesson made it so painfully clear that I’ve yet to have a sound mind in these areas. And it affects my daily life.
“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3
It’s only been a few days since I heard the lesson on a sound mind, but I’ve already experienced a wonderful mental change. By the help of Christ and a new determination to “gird up my loins” and strengthen my mind, I’ve been able to shake myself out of the harmful, unauthorized imaginings when they visit. They enter my mind often. I rebuke the thoughts and mindfully give them over to my Lord. I am refusing rent space, and practicing voluntary discipline.
It’s a choice.
I know there is much ground to conquer, but I’m at peace in a way I’ve never been before.
There is power in naming. When we don’t have the vocabulary or a word to define what we’re dealing with, it can be hard to pinpoint the problem. But now I do have a word. A multidimensional word – Sophron. I want that word. I want to embody that word and finally conquer my unstable thinking.
Why? Because I want to grow. I want peace. I also want to be able to teach and encourage young women and girls. Like Paul, I must bring my thoughts under subjection so when I do teach/share, I am not a hypocrite.
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly (sophron: self-controlled), righteously, and godly, in this present world;” – Titus 2:11-12
Without a sophron state of mind, we will allow our thoughts to dictate our actions. We will continue in our addictions, our vices, our inappropriate behavior – because we lack the mental power to stop the thoughts before they become actions.
We will continue in sexual sin. Whether that’s illicit relations, pornography, or sexually perverse thinking. Continue in our addictions – alcohol, food, grumpiness (yep, moods can be addicting), substance abuse, shopping……
We will be impatient and harsh. Lacking tenderness, forgiveness and mercy. We will be vain and silly and foolish.
If we are prone to emotional distress, we will stay depressed, moody, anxious and discontent.
We won’t be able to take care of our bodies because we lack the emotional strength to start. We won’t be able to take care of our families, our homes, our churches because we lack the emotional strength to press forward.
The Church, the body, suffers.
But praise God, we can have a sophron state of mind. We can recognize our need, recognize our unstable ways. And we can change.
“If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land.” Isaiah 1:19
Adopt a sophron state of mind. A self-controlled, stable mind. Discipline your mind.
Young women, this passage states that older women have a clear role in the church. To teach you. If they aren’t seeking you out, seek them out. Ask them for help. For advice. Be their friend. Develop a relationship.
The same applies for young and old men.
I hope these thoughts encourage you as much as they encourage and challenge me. I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to message me and/or comment below.
If you’re interested in listening to the lessons, here’s the first link regarding sophron. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth breaks the word into several proceeding lessons.
*Side note: I have gleaned many truths listening to lessons from this ministry. However, I will say I am turned away from their marketing decisions. Revive Our Hearts pushes monetary contributions at the end of almost every lesson. I do not appreciate this, as it cheapens the message. I usually stop the podcast so I don’t have to listen to it. But I do believe these lessons offer Biblical truth that have aided my personal journey.
“For I know the thoughts (plans) that I think toward you,” says the Lord. “Thoughts of peace and not of evil, to bring you to an expected end. ”
Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
And I will be found of you, says the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, says the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” – Jeremiah 29:11-14