Use Your Head!

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.

Ephesians 5:10

When I was growing up, if I did something foolish, my parents would admonish me with a familiar refrain: "Mark, use your head!" They wanted me to think about my actions before I acted. They urged me to pay attention to right and wrong and to consider the consequences of my behavior.

Ephesians 5:10 might be paraphrased: Use your head! In the NIV, it reads, "[Live as children of light. . .] and find out what pleases the Lord." In fact, the Greek verb translated as "find out" (dokimazein) means "to examine, test, approve, or prove." It suggests the use of our mental faculties to consider something carefully and make a wise, sober judgment about it. To borrow the words of my parents, it means, "to use your head."

The NIV translation connects the verbs "live" and "find out" by the use of "and" (5:10). The Greek reads a little differently and could be rendered: "Live as children of light. . .by finding out what pleases the Lord." In other words, living and finding out are not two parallel activities, but rather two deeply interconnected ones. We will live as children of light by finding out what pleases the Lord. Our actions and thoughts are inseparable. We need to think rightly in order to act rightly. We need to use our heads.

These days, head usage gets short shrift. Our culture prizes feeling above all, with activism running in second place. You can even find Christians who emphasize emotions to such an extent that they devalue thinking or doctrine. "Loving Jesus" is everything while "theology" is neglected or even disparaged. Now, I would never want to suggest that feelings are irrelevant or that loving Jesus is insignificant. But I do worry that we have tilted the balance so far away from thinking that we need a hard reset. Ephesians 5:8-10 reminds us that if we want to live as children of light, we had better use our heads to determine what pleases the Lord.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When, recently, have you "used your head" to figure out what is pleasing to the Lord? What helps you to think clearly and deeply about faith and action? How can you figure out what is pleasing to the Lord?

PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for giving me the power of thought, the ability to reason, to imagine, and to render judgment. Thank you for all the ways you have helped me to learn how to think. Thank you for my parents, my teachers, my pastors, my counselors, and my friends. Thank you for writers who have instructed me and artists who have stretched me. Thank you for the communities of thought in which I have lived. Thank you for your Spirit, who teaches and guides me.

Help me, Lord, to be faithful in using my head for your purposes. May I come to know you more truly so that I might follow you more nearly. May I use all the faculties you have given me to determine what pleases you. And then, Lord, may I do it. Amen.


Leadership Influence: Beyond the Stereotype

When we think of “leadership” or “influence,” we often get the image of a person of arrogant swagger, always self-confidently willing to tell people what they ought to do. And we naturally find such an image unseemly. This is not the image of Jesus, the most influential person who walked the planet. Neither is it the image of those we truly admire and can name were the most influential people in our own lives. In this week's series at The High Calling, Leadership Influence: Beyond the Stereotype, we feature stories of how people can be influential in ways that really matter.

Featured image above by Jhong Dizon. Used with Permission. Via Flickr.