Everyone interacts with other people in a family, at work, at church, in a store, in a car, in a neighborhood. In the process, you either reveal or conceal what is on your mind.
Many of my clients appear to be radiantly happy when they enter the consulting room, but before the session is over they reveal a bitter, hateful spirit. All these people are prepared to do anything to avoid the hatred, anger, ill will or the critical spirit of another person directed at them–even to the point of lying and deceiving.
Why? Because their sense of self-respect depends on the good will of the other person.
But a deceitful relationship is self-defeating. These people didn’t come to see me because the other person was dissatisfied. They came because they, themselves, were miserable.
When you misrepresent yourself to others–that is, when you lie and deceive others, for any reason, you violate a commandment, which is:
Laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbor, for we are members of one another (Ephesians 4:25).
To deceive another is to chip away at your own self-respect, even though you receive praise and good will as a result.
The Bible says:
- As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects man (Proverbs 27:19).
- The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy (Proverbs 14:10).
Only you know what goes on underneath your skin. Whether bitterness or joy floods your soul is known only to you. A person may look miserable but can be radiant on the inside. Another may look happy but can be miserable on the inside.
I am impressed by the wisdom given to us by the apostle Paul:
But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the LORD, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore, let us not judge one another any more, but rather determine this-not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way (Romans 14:10-13).
You can hear what I say and observe what I do, but you can’t judge the accuracy of what I say, nor can you judge my motives or my sincerity. What you can do is judge the accuracy of what you say and your own motives and sincerity. You and I must stand or fall before God alone, when it comes to our mental activity. How, then, can we know each other? Only as we choose to open our minds and hearts to each other.
The Bible says:
- Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment (1 Corinthians 1:10).
- If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose (Philippians 2:1-2).
If your minds are not together, you are not together, even if you speak the same words and do the same things.
There are a variety of ways to come to a meeting of minds:
When two or more people decide to drive to New York next Tuesday and stay at a certain Holiday Inn for a week–and there are no mental reservations–this could be called an agreement.
If someone in the party prefers a Sheraton Inn, but finally agrees to the Holiday Inn, this is a concession–provided the decision is made without mental reservations.
On the way to New York, the travelers take turns driving. One drives 50 mph, the other 70 mph. One’s speed is too slow to suit the other, and the other’s speed is too fast for his partner. So, they agree to both drive 60 mph. This is a compromise.
Acceptance of Authority
The travelers differ over how often to stop along the way and where to eat. Finally, they agree there must be a leader who has the last word, and one of them is chosen to be the leader.
No person can separate feelings, thoughts, and actions. This is especially true when differences of opinion arise. We all tend to go our own way, and our opinions will sooner or later collide with someone else’s. So to work on being like-minded is a continuous process, and the process will reveal the spirit.
There are constant changes forcing us to make adjustments, which require daily decisions. The necessity for making all these decisions calls for a certain attitude as described by this verse:
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself (Philippians 2:3).
Negotiating new agreements can be fun only if you approach each other unselfishly, humbly, and keep the importance of the other person in mind.
When there is a difference of opinion and you are not walking in the Spirit, it is easy to lose sight of the importance of the other person and become preoccupied with the negative side of the person you are negotiating with. In the effort to come to a meeting of minds, you tend to get caught up in your own interest and lose sight of the other person’s.
It is this spirit that is required if you are to be like-minded. You give yourself totally and completely to find a basis for a meeting of minds with whomever you must cooperate. Training, ability, power, or wealth does not exempt you from making a continuous effort to maintain like-mindedness.
The management of your mind is your responsibility. No one can do it for you. If you use God’s commandments as a standard for what you allow into your mind, and if you commit yourself to speak the truth and to be like-minded with the people in your life, you will build your own self-respect and self-love.
This is an excerpt of Chapter 8, Your Inner Life: The Mind from Dr. Brandt’s book I Want Happiness Now!