The proverb, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” was popularized in 1972 when it was adopted by the United Negro College Fund as a marketing slogan. It has since been one of the most successful slogans for drawing potential African American youth to college who might not be able to afford it.
The thought that “a mind is a terrible thing to waste” can also apply to anyone. It means that one should put one’s mind to good use. (Wictionary) If we don’t use our minds the way our Creator intended, we will be wasting them.
Now, how far do we go or can we go to use our minds? Some are attempting to literally use the human mind beyond what we can even imagine. For example, in what seems like science fiction, research has been underway in recent years to fly airplanes with mind control. Yes, that’s right—mind control!
At a time when self-driving cars are already here, now mind-controlling flight may soon be common place according to sources. It’s called “brain actuated control.” Scalp monitors worn by pilots would pick up EEG (electroencephalography) signals recorded from their brain waves. The monitors would be connected to a computer in the airplane controls running the mind-control algorithm. Just by simply thinking, pilots could give flight commands for carrying out maneuvers like takeoffs and landings. This is already being tested in virtual flight simulations by aerospace engineers in Germany. Mind-control has also been tested on flying helicopters, as well. (http://www.livescience.com/)
While the human mind may have potential to do some amazing things like flying airplanes, it still has some flaws. We must remember that according to the Bible the mind is particularly susceptible to the weakness of the flesh. The Apostle Paul said, “But I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members,” (Romans 7:23).
The apostle was referring to the carnal flesh versus the perfect law of God. “For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of flesh sold into bondage to sin,” (v. 14). There is always this inner battle going on in our minds: carnal vs. spiritual. Because of sin, we cannot control our minds to the point of resisting the allurements of our carnal nature. Maybe someday human minds can command control of an airplane but we cannot control our minds to the point of resisting sin and all of its consequences.
There is only one way for our minds to be controlled and that is by putting on the mind of Christ. Consider these three passages (New King James Version, NKJV):
1 Corinthians 2:16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (ref. Isaiah 40:13)
Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus….
1 Peter 4:1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin….
As these verses point out, the mind of Christ is far more superior than the human mind. With the mind of Christ, we can overcome what our minds cannot overcome: the works of the flesh. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God,” (Galatians 5:16-21, English Standard Version, ESV).
We are living in an age that is filled with depraved minds, not the mind of Christ. In fact, God is giving the people of the world just what their minds crave at their own demise: “Therefore, God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonoured among them….For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions….And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,” (Rom. 1:24-32, New American Standard Bible NASB).
But believers in Christ are called to put on the mind of Christ. And what is the mind of Christ? First, I will give you a formal definition according to the original Greek. The word “mind” is a noun that means, “the reason; the reasoning faculty; intellect.” More specifically, it refers to “the God-given capacity of each person to think (reason); the mind; the mental capacity to exercise reflective thinking. For the believer, ‘the mind’ is the organ of receiving God’s thoughts through faith. (HELPS Word-Studies)
In the context of First Corinthians 2:16, we identify the characteristics of those with the mind of Christ. It basically applies to the power and wisdom that comes from God through Christ. Those who have accepted Jesus Christ through faith, repentance, and baptism have entered a new Spirit-filled life (See Acts 2:38; 2 Cor. 5:17; Ephesians 2:1-10). When we strive to allow Jesus to change our lives, we are using that God-given capacity to think and reason according to his wisdom and power.
To those who are outside the Body of Christ—those who have not been converted through God’s only begotten Son—God’s wisdom and power are foolishness. They pursue the wisdom of mankind instead. Such persons think they do not need Jesus to change their lives. They live by their own philosophies and theories and rules, denying God and his holy Word. But Paul makes sure to point out that the wisdom of mankind is, in reality, foolishness in God’s eyes. For man’s wisdom is nothing more than the works of the flesh or, in other words, the “natural man” as opposed to those who are being transformed through the Spirit of God.
Those with the mind of Christ are devoted to serve him by submitting to him. It includes being transformed with the kind of attitude that pleases him rather than those outside of Christ. As Paul said, “And do not be conformed to this world [age] but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect,” (Romans 12:2, NASB).
When our minds are set on the mind of Christ, we enjoy the kind of peace, love, joy, and hope that God intends for us to have through Jesus, his Son. This is something that is so seriously missing in this present evil age. Indeed, a mind is a terrible thing to waste if it is not controlled by the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ is the only way you can win against sin and be filled with his overcoming power. It’s like this poem by Kate B. Wilkinson:
The Mind of Christ In Me
May the mind of Christ our Saviour,
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say.
May the Word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His power.
May the peace of God my Father
Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing.
May the love of Jesus fill me,
As the water fill the sea,
Him exalting, self abasing,
This is victory.
May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go.
May His beauty rest upon me
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
Seeing only Him.
Now here is the tune to this inspiring poem, sung by Jake Armerding:
Good News to YOU!