Grief, Depression, and Healing through Gaming

I’ve read books that handle the topic of mental health extremely well, such as Eliza and Her Monsters. I’d dare say most of us have seem films or TV series, or read books, that touched us deeply and maybe even pushed us toward personal growth and healing. I’d never experienced that with a game before, though, until playing through Gris over the past couple weeks.

Gris is a single-player adventure game by indie developer Nomada Studio, where you play as “a hopeful young girl lost in her own world, dealing with a painful experience in her life.” The game is a “journey through sorrow,” and you help Gris “navigate her faded reality.” In addition to being the character’s name, gris means “gray” in Spanish and that reflects the gray world where you begin gameplay.

I bought Gris after it came up in my Rhetoric of Gaming class (a special topics course I’m taking during this semester of grad school). I expected to enjoy the game, knowing it has a beautiful soundtrack, stunning animation (it’s gorgeous even on my laptop that’s not designed for gaming), and frustration-free gameplay where you’re challenged by puzzles but not worried about running out of time or dying. I hadn’t expected it to move me to tears so many times or make me want to write about mental health.

I suspect one of the reasons Gris resonated so strongly with me is because of my interest in how people talk about mental health in everyday conversation and various forms of media. As my regular readers know, I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression since I was about 15, and I also lost a close friend to a car accident seven years ago. Gris pulled all those feelings of hurt, sorrow, and sadness up to the surface, punctuated them with moments of beauty and hope, and handled them with great care.

mild spoilers ahead

Grief, Depression, and Healing through Gaming | LikeAnAnchor.com

One of the things that stood out to me in particular about Gris is that they didn’t fall into the trap of oversimplifying grief and depression. It wasn’t a smooth, easy journey out of despair nor was it something that happened in an overly linear fashion. Most people don’t experience depression or grief as a moment of dull, faded, gray in their lives that grows gradually lighter and lighter until finally the world is set right again. It’s more like what happens in Gris as you travel steadily toward something hopeful and light and good, and you still go through cycles when the darkness comes back and seems ready to devour or choke you. But you do get through it, and even though the marks of when you fell apart are still there you are whole again.

end spoilers

I’d go so far as to say that playing Gris has the potential to be a healing experience, particularly for those who’ve struggled with depression and grief. While it’s no substitute for professional counseling and/or personal healing work, Gris is a powerful example of the potential that games–and art in general–have as a positive force in this world.

Unexpected People in the Kingdom of God

As I began studying the kingdom of God a couple weeks ago, I noticed there were several times when Jesus told his listeners that the kingdom wasn’t going to be full of the type of people they expected it to be. Rather, those who expected to get in wouldn’t make it and the people they’d thought wouldn’t qualify would be there.

Part of what Jesus was doing in these interactions was blowing up the idea that the kingdom belonged only to one ethnic group (Jewish descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) or only to those who lived perfect religious lives. There’s a much more open invitation than most of Jesus’s audience realized, and God wants all sorts of people in His kingdom. That doesn’t mean there isn’t something expected of the people invited, though. It’s just not exactly what the Jewish people who were involved in these particular interactions thought God wanted.

For those of us today who believe in God and read His Bible, the sorts of people that Jesus says will be included in the kingdom shouldn’t surprise us. Even so, it’s just as easy for us to get caught-up in ideas that don’t have much soundness in scripture, or to become complacent in our own righteousness, as it was for the people of Jesus’s day. And so as we look at these scriptures about the people Jesus says will be in the kingdom, perhaps they will challenge us to take a closer look at our expectations–and our own lives–just as they challenged Jesus’s listeners two centuries ago.

The Sinners Who Know They Need God

Jesus was in the temple courts when “the chief priests and elders of the people came up to him” and started questioning his authority. As part of His answer, He told a parable about two sons (Matt. 21:23-46). At the end, He says, “I tell you the truth, tax collectors and prostitutes will go ahead of you into the kingdom of God!” (Matt. 21:31, NET). It must have been a shocking and offensive thing to hear, and it’s not much later that they crucify Him. This isn’t the first time Jesus had said something like this, either. After a centurion came to Jesus asking healing for his servant, Jesus told those following Him:

” I tell you the truth, I have not found such faith in anyone in Israel! I tell you, many will come from the east and west to share the banquet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, but the sons of the kingdom will be thrown out into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Matthew 8:10-12, NET

The people who were sure they’d done everything right, who didn’t think they needed to change, who thought they were better than others–those people were told they’d be thrown out of the kingdom (Luke 13:24-30). Today, we also need to beware of complacency; of the Laodicea attitude that says, “I am rich and … and need nothing” (Rev. 3:17, NET). The sinners who know they need God have an easier time getting into His kingdom than self-righteous religious people do. We can’t expect to coast into the kingdom based on any human qualifications, or attending the “right” church group, or even the most rigorous keeping of God’s laws.

The People Who Do God’s Will

Let’s go back to the parable of the two sons, because Jesus says a lot more there than just delivering a warning about who will and won’t be in the kingdom. He also explains why.

“What do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ The boy answered, ‘I will not.’ But later he had a change of heart and went. The father went to the other son and said the same thing. This boy answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, tax collectors and prostitutes will go ahead of you into the kingdom of God! For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him. But the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe. Although you saw this, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

Matthew 21:28-32, NET

See? It’s not about what we say we’ll do or believe. It’s about how we actually respond to God. The “sinners” getting into the kingdom do so because they listen to godly instruction, repent, change, and live according to the Father’s will as they live their lives going forward. The mistake people were making in Jesus’s time was thinking that one group was naturally more righteous–and therefore more deserving–than the other. While some also think that today, we also (and perhaps more often) make the mistake of thinking that we don’t need to be righteous–that we just confess Jesus and we’re automatically in the kingdom. Neither view is correct. God wants everyone to join His kingdom and He expects us to do His will. The kingdom is about His grace and our covenant faithfulness.

The kingdom of God will be … given to a people who will produce its fruit.

Matthew 21:43, NET

Those Who Are Changed by Jesus

The idea that God’s commands don’t matter any more today is absolutely unscriptural. Jesus didn’t do away with law, commands, or any part of the Word of God. Rather, He elevated them to a spiritual level. Under the New Covenant, we’re to live on that spiritual level, doing God’s will because our hearts are transformed to want what His heart wants. There are certain “fruits” that God expects from those in His kingdom.

Paul tells us that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-5). However, formerly unrighteous people can. Every single one of us has sinned and qualified as unrighteous before God (Rom 3:9-23). In order for us to become righteous instead of unrighteous we need to be washed, sanctified, and “justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11, NET). We all need to undergo a significant change in order to inherit the kingdom of God, both now and in the future.

And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, let us also bear the image of the man of heaven. Now this is what I am saying, brothers and sisters: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

1 Corinthians 15:49-50, NET

This change is fully accomplished at the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:51-58), but putting on Christ starts now (Rom. 13:14; Gal. 3:27). It doesn’t matter what your ethnic or religious background is or how unrighteous you might have been before knowing Christ. It’s one of God’s greatest miracles that He calls people who seem the most unworthy and unexpected by human judgements and turns them into His children (1 Cor. 1:26-31). He just asks us to follow Him and be faithful, and He’ll make us part of the people who are citizens of His kingdom.

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Living for the Present and Coming Kingdom

What does the kingdom of God mean to you? Take a moment and picture it in your mind, as well as you can. What does it look like? Where is it? When is it? How are you defining “kingdom”?

For a long time, I’ve noticed that many Christians I meet seem to talk about the kingdom in two different ways. One group of people talks about it as something that’s here, in-progress, right now. “We bring the kingdom come” echoes through our radios, and teachings, books, and conversation reveals the idea that the kingdom is happening today and that we’re involved. On the other hand, some talk about the kingdom as something that will happen/arrive at a specific time in the future. Again, this view of the kingdom echoes through our music, sermons, books and conversation as we talk about the kingdom.

I’ve been going through all the New Testament scriptures talking about God’s kingdom, and I’m struck by the realization that Jesus talks about the kingdom in both senses. At one point He says, “The kingdom of God is in your midst” (Luke 17:21, NET), then He talks about the kingdom as something believers inherit after His second coming (Matt. 25:31-34). If we try to pick just one view or the other, we lose something important that God is trying to tell us about His kingdom. This kingdom is real and in-progress now, but it will not be fully realized and present until the future. Understanding this can have a profound impact on the ways that we live and worship today.

Kingdom-Building

We’ll return to what Jesus Himself says about the kingdom, but I think it’s helpful to start with looking at how one of the people that Jesus directly taught explained the kingdom to newer believers.

giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son he loves.

Colossians 1:12-13, NET

Paul says that believers have already been placed in Jesus’s kingdom by God the Father. The kingdom belongs to God, and He calls us to be there (1 Thes. 2:12). This has already happened, and is continuing today. Then, something else will happen after the resurrection.

For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he has brought to an end all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

1 Cor. 15:22-25, NET

Jesus is currently ruling, running, and bringing about the kingdom, filling a key role the Father has entrusted to Him. The Father is actively involved as well, selecting and calling people into the kingdom. This kingdom is something we’re part of today and, if we remain faithful, we’ll also be part of the future, fully-realized kingdom at the time when all enemies, including death, are eliminated (1 Cor. 15:26-28) and the kingdom is subject to the Father’s direct rule (Rev. 19-22).

Aiming Toward the Kingdom

A frequent description of Christ’s ministry is that He came preaching Good News of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; Luke 4:43; 8:1; Acts 1:3). Over and over, He talked about what the kingdom of God is like (mostly through parables) and explained what people need to to do be in the kingdom. We know that our walk with God is a relationship, and we’re supposed to obey Him because we love Him, not because we’re trying to get something out of Him. That does not, however, cancel-out the fact that we are promised a place in the kingdom as a reward for following God faithfully. There’s no shame in joyfully accepting the gifts that God is delighted to give us.

Instead, pursue his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father is well pleased to give you the kingdom.

Luke 12:31-32, NET
Living for the Present and Coming Kingdom | LikeAnAnchor.com
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This is a memory scripture for many, and seems simple on the surface. But how can you actually pursue the kingdom? Is it about living as if you’re there now? Or aiming for the future kingdom? Or maybe we should set the idea of pursuing the kingdom aside and just focus on seeking a relationship with God, since that might be easier to make sense of.

I’d been pondering these questions for over a week when I stumbled upon an idea from Jordan Peterson (through an Akira the Don song, of all things) that helped things come together. This quote is from his lecture series on Genesis, when he took a side-trip into the New Testament to talk about the “lilies of the field” passages in Matthew 6 and Luke 12.

The idea is that, if you configure your life so that what you are genuinely doing is aiming at the highest possibly good, then the things that you need to survive and thrive on a day-to-day basis will deliver themselves to you. That’s a hypothesis, and it’s not some simple hypothesis. What it basically says is, if you dare to do the most difficult thing that you can conceptualize, your life will work out better than it will if you do anything else. Well, how are you going to find out if that’s true?

It’s a Kierkegaardian leap of faith. There’s no way you’re going to find out whether or not that’s true unless you do it. No one can tell you, either: working for someone else is no proof that it will work for you. You have to be all-in in this game. The idea is, “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” It’s like, that’s actually a fairly important caution when you’re talking about not having to pay attention to what you’re going to eat or what you’re going to wear. What it’s essentially saying is that those problems are trivial in comparison.

Jordan Peterson, “Biblical Series VII: Walking with God: Noah and the Flood”

One of the things Peterson points out is that Jesus is saying we need to live right now in a way that aims us toward the kingdom. That’s also where righteousness comes in, as we seek to mimic God’s character and live as if we are already part of the kingdom Christ is building now and will complete in the future. Anything else is so much less important that it’s like it doesn’t matter. The kingdom should be so valuable to use that we’re willing to let go of whatever’s getting in the way of us being there (Mark 9:43-50; Luke 18:24-30).

Living for the Present and Coming Kingdom | LikeAnAnchor.com
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Citizens of a Heavenly Kingdom

The Bible talks of us as pilgrim travelers here on this earth and as aliens in a foreign land. When we covenant with God and give our lives to Him, we transfer our citizenship to heaven (Phil. 3:20-21). God is our king now, today, because Jesus “loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of his own blood and has appointed us as a kingdom, as priests serving his God and Father” (Rev. 1:5-6, NET). For us, the kingdom of God is real and relevant today, and it is also the goal we keep in mind to help bolster our faith.

These all died in faith without receiving the things promised, but they saw them in the distance and welcomed them and acknowledged that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth. For those who speak in such a way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. … they aspire to a better land, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 11:13-14, 16, NET

Our loyalties should lie with God. His kingdom is the “country” we should think of as our true home. That’s a key part of what it means to be all-in, seeking His kingdom and righteousness. It’s not about what we get; it’s about knowing who we are in Christ and committing ourselves to being part of the family He and the Father are building.

Why Are So Many INFJs Obsessed With Fictional Characters?

Every once in a while, I go through the list of search terms that WordPress says leads people to my blog looking to see if there are any topics I haven’t covered. This is one of them. It’s no surprise that search term led to this blog, though, since I’m an INFJ bloggers and the number of posts I’ve written about typing fictional characters (both here and on my Star Wars Personalities blog) shows that at least this INFJ is obsessed with fictional characters.

That doesn’t answer the question of “why” though. Nor does it explain why my posts about fictional character types were the most popular posts on my blog last year. It’s not just the posts about INFJ characters that are popular, either. All of my “7 Fictional Characters You’ll Relate To If You’re An ___” posts get a lot of views. We might not all be obsessed with fictional characters for the same reasons, but it seems that at least some people from every personality type feels an interest in and an attachment to fictional characters.

For INFJs (and perhaps other types as well), I suspect this obsession with fictional characters comes from a few different sources. Part of it is likely because INFJs so often feel alone and misunderstood in our real lives. We struggle to find belonging and acceptance, and so we search the stories that we love for people who seem to be like us. Many INFJs feel as if they find themselves in their favorite stories, and they may feel that the characters they find within fiction could understand them better than the people in real-life do.

This last part leads to another possible reason why INFJs are obsessed with fiction and fictional characters. We have very active imaginations and often talk about our “rich inner world.” Our minds are peopled with interesting places, people, ideas, and storylines that we encounter in fiction and real-life alongside all the imaginings we come up with on our own. Fictional characters give us fuel for the imaginative lives we lead inside our thoughts.

INFJs are also a type that loves people, but often finds interacting with other people in real-life challenging. It’s not that we avoid spending time with people, but we’re selective about who we spend time with and for how long because we have a limited amount of social energy. Reading well-written fiction or watching a well-acted film gives us the opportunity to “interact” in a non-social way with a wider number and variety of people than we’d typically get to see in real life. Fictional characters are not by any means a substitute for real friends, but they can help fill an INFJ’s hunger to learn about as many different people and perspectives as possible without wearing themselves out.

So there are the three reasons why I think INFJs are so often obsessed with fictional characters. We find connection with characters, we enjoy the way fiction fuels our imaginations, and we learn about people from stories.

Do you have any other explanations you’d add to this list for why we’re obsessed with fictional characters? And if you’re not an INFJ, do these reasons resonate with you as well or are there other reasons that you enjoy engaging with fiction?

If you’d like to know more about personal growth tips for the INFJ personality type, check out my book The INFJ Handbook. I’ve updated this second edition with a ton of new information and resources. You can purchase it in ebook or paperback by clicking this link.

Featured blog image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Guarding What God Has Put in Your Heart

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard messages on the importance of guarding our hearts. God wants relationships with people who are pure in heart and who are whole-heartedly devoted to Him. In order to be like that, we need to be careful what we let into our hearts. Guarding our hearts, we’re often told, is about not letting bad things in.

Though that aspect of guarding our hearts is of vital importance, there’s also another side to this. To quote a daily devotional I’ve been reading, “We are to keep things in –things like the Spirit of Jesus, the humility and gentleness, the servanthood and sacrifice, the worship and thankfulness” (Chris Tiegreen, 365 Pocket Devotions, p.23). We need to be careful that we’re not so focused on keeping bad things out that we forget to keep the good things in.

Keep Truth In Your Heart

When Samuel was sent to anoint David, Yahweh told him, “God does not view things the way people do. People look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7, NET). What’s in our hearts is what matters most to God. We don’t want to let in things that would corrupt our hearts, but we’re also not evaluated based on what we’ve kept out. God looks at what we keep in.

My child, pay attention to my words;
listen attentively to my sayings.
Do not let them depart from your sight,
guard them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and healing to one’s entire body.
Guard your heart with all vigilance,
for from it are the sources of life.

Proverbs 4:20-23, NET

This is the one Bible passage that clearly instructs us to guard our hearts. It starts out by telling us to put wise words inside us and then “keep them in the center of your heart” (v. 21, WEB). It’s about guarding the good things in our hearts because what’s inside us determines what comes out of our lives, for good or evil.

He said, “What comes out of a person defiles him. For from within, out of the human heart, come evil ideas, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, evil, deceit, debauchery, envy, slander, pride, and folly. All these evils come from within and defile a person.”

Mark 7:20-23, NET

If what’s inside our hearts is bad, the fruit our lives produce will be bad also, no matter how much we polish up the outside. We can, however, with God’s help, replace the bad things with good things. Change has to happen in our hearts as we internalize the words of God, and then we need to guard those good things that He gives us.

Attach Your Hearts to Good Things

Putting His law inside people’s hearts is one of the central aspects of God’s new covenant. When He prophesied the new covenant, He said, “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts and minds. I will be their God and they will be my people” (Jer. 31:33, NET). That’s what’s happening as part of the covenant Jesus instituted with His sacrifice (Heb. 8:7-13; 10:14-18). In order to have good things come from our lives we need to have good things in our hearts, and that comes from entering this covenant with God. We also need to diligently guard what God is teaching and giving us.

“Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don’t break through and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6:19-21, NET

Part of guarding our hearts involves being careful about what “treasure” we attach ourselves to. If the things that we care about most and pour our energy into are worldly, that’s where our hearts will be. But if we put our efforts, time, and affection into good and godly things, then that is what our hearts and souls will treasure.

Entrust God With Your Heart

There is one other verse that uses the phrase “guard your hearts.” This time, though, it’s not an instruction for us. It’s something God does for us when we trust Him with our hearts and minds.

Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7, NET

We talked about this type of peace at length just a couple weeks ago in a post called “Finding Peace On Earth Today.” The peace that God offers is a sort of peace that’s not dependent on external circumstances. Rather, it is a product of a heart that is committed to fully trusting God. True, lasting, godly peace comes when we trust God to take care of the things that threaten to take away our peace. When we pray in every situation, God shares His peace with us and it works to guard our hearts.

The task of guarding our hearts–keeping good things in and stopping bad things from taking over–is a life-long process. It’s something that God expects us to be actively involved in, and it’s something that He’s committed to helping us with.

Featured image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

What Does It Mean To Be Double-Minded, and How Can We Fix It?

I love it when a phrase in a book or a comment from a friend prompts an unexpectedly deep Bible study. Just last week, someone in my church’s scripture writing group suggested we study the phrase “double-minded.” Since there are only two verses in the Bible that use this word (at least in most translations), it sounded like a challenging and intriguing study. It’s also a study that’s relevant to things we struggle with today. It’s so easy to find ourselves becoming filled with worry, questions, and doubt. There are so many different versions of “truth” being marketed today, and it gets confusing. We need to be clear in our own minds what we believe and why so that we’re not double-minded. I hope you’ll find reading about this topic as fascinating–and helpful–as I did. We begin in the opening part of James’s epistle.

But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a double-minded individual, unstable in all his ways.

James 1:5-8, NET

The word translated “double-minded” is dipsuchos, meaning “two spirited,” “vacillating” (Strong’s Dictionary), “wavering, uncertain, doubting,” and “divided in interest” (Thayer’s Dictionary). It comes from two words: dis (twice, again) and psuche (breath, spirit). Zodhiates adds that “such a person suffers from divided loyalties. On the one hand, he wishes to maintain a religious confession and desires the presence of God in his life; on the other hand he loves the ways of the world and prefers to live according to its mores and ethics” (dictionary entry 1374). Sounds like something a lot of Christians struggle with today, doesn’t it? James is the only New Testament writer to use this word, and it appears once again closer to the end of his epistle.

Be subject therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament, mourn, and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will exalt you.

James 4:7-10, WEB

Though there are only two verses using this word, James makes it clear that being “double-minded” is not a good thing. From the context as we read James 1:8, we can say that faith and stability are the opposites of double-mindedness. Then James 4:8 recommends that the double-minded purify their hearts, indicating that being double-minded has something to do with the state of our hearts. It also appears to be something that we can fix, and which God will help us correct.

How Long Will You Waver?

In the Old Testament, the prophet Elijah confronted the people of Israel about their idolatry. They’d constantly sway back and forth between faith in God and following pagan religions. This wavering, uncertain, divided loyalty was not something that pleased God.

Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long are you going to be paralyzed by indecision? If the Lord is the true God, then follow him, but if Baal is, follow him!” But the people did not say a word.

1 Kings 18:21, NET

You can click here to read the entire story. Right now, I want to focus in on the phrase “paralyzed by indecision.” The more literal translation from Hebrew would be, “How long are you going to limp around on two crutches?” (NET footnote). Here, though, it’s an idiomatic phrase and does not refer to physical disability or injury. It’s a picture of someone’s thoughts and loyalty swaying back and forth unsteadily, similar to how James describes the double-minded individual as tossed by the sea. Other translations of this phrase in 1 Kings 18 include, “How long will you waver between the two sides?” (WEB) and “How long will you falter between two opinions?” (NKJV).

The need for us to set doubt aside and be loyal to God alone is also discussed in the New Testament. In his Pentecost sermon recorded in the book of Acts, Peter said, “let all the house of Israel know beyond a doubt that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36, NET). We’re not meant to live in a state of indecision. Knowing who Jesus is removes doubt and replaces it with faith. This sort of faith is absolutely essential, “for he who comes to God must believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6, NET). We don’t have to get rid of all doubt before we come to Jesus, but at the very least we need to reach a point where we can say, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24, NET).

Don’t Divide Your Loyalty

The only other Bible verse that uses the word “double-minded” is found in certain translations of Psalm 119:113. In the World English Bible it’s translated, “I hate double-minded men, but I love your law.” The New King James Version is almost identical: “I hate the double-minded.” Offering a slightly different reading, the New English Translation says, “I hate people with divided loyalties.” We cannot afford to live as double-minded people with divided loyalties. It’s impossible to be loyal to God and serve things that are incompatible with His way of life.

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t serve both God and Mammon.

Matthew 6:24, WEB

Our loyalty and service belongs to God alone. We must follow Jesus’s example of rejecting the siren call of temptation and say, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: ‘You are to worship the Lord your God and serve only him'” (Matt. 4:10, quoting Deut. 6:13, NET). This is exactly what James was talking about when he said, “Be subject therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” right before he said, “Purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:7-8, WEB). God wants the entirety of our hearts, not just the pieces leftover after we do other things in our lives.

O Lord, teach me how you want me to live.
Then I will obey your commands.
Make me wholeheartedly committed to you.
O Lord, my God, I will give you thanks with my whole heart.
I will honor your name continually.

Psalm 86:11-12, NET

Learning to Have an Undivided Mind

Though there are only 2 or 3 scriptures that directly talk about being double-minded, many scriptures talk about the importance of having “one mind” and being “like-minded” with other believers. This doesn’t mean that believers will all have the same personalities, types of lives, or individual opinions. Rather, this like-mindedness is rooted in all of us learning to think in the same way that God thinks. If we’ve been recipients of God’s spirit, then “we have Christ’s mind” (1 Cor. 2:16, WEB). The more we learn to have the same mind as Christ, the more like-minded we become with each other as well.

Now the God of perseverance and of encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:5-6, WEB

God wants His people to live in unity. We’re meant to care for every follower of Christ as much as we care for ourselves. We’re to work on resolving differences peacefully and prayerfully, seeking to have God’s perspective rather than defend our own opinions. We’re to replace double-mindedness, doubt, and instability with faith and loyalty, following the example of Jesus Christ in how we act and think.

For though we walk in the flesh, we don’t wage war according to the flesh; for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the throwing down of strongholds, throwing down imaginations and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5, WEB

Through the power of God working inside us, we can choose to change our thoughts. Whether our minds are divided or whole is in large part up to us. We’re not helpless victims of our own doubt but rather mighty warriors who are strong in the Lord. Through Him, we have the power to overcome worry, doubt, and division and instead commit ourselves to lives full of faith.

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