“BE MADE NEW IN YOUR DOMINANT MENTAL ATTITUDE”
7. How can we change what we are inside?
7 Is it possible to change our basic inclinations or who we really are inside? God’s Word answers: “You should continue to be made new in your dominant mental attitude, and should put on the new personality that was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.” (Eph. 4:23, 24) Yes, it is possible to change what we are inside, but it is not easy to do. We need to do more than just suppress wrong desires and actions. We need to change our “dominant mental attitude.” That involves changing our desires, our tendencies, and our motivations. This requires continuous action.
8-9. How does the experience of one brother highlight the need to change what we are inside?
8 Let us consider the example of a brother who had a violent background. After he stopped drinking and fighting, he qualified for baptism, giving a wonderful witness in the small community where he lived. But one evening, shortly after his baptism, he faced an unexpected test. A drunk man came to his home and challenged him to a fight. Initially our brother resisted his urge to fight. But when the man eventually blasphemed Jehovah’s name, it was too much for our new brother. He went out and beat up the man. What was the problem? Although his study of the Bible had helped him to suppress his violent tendencies, he had not yet been able to change his dominant mental attitude. In other words, he had not changed who he really was inside.
9 However, this brother did not give up. (Prov. 24:16) With the help of the elders, he continued to make good progress. He eventually qualified to be an elder. Then one evening, right outside of the Kingdom Hall, he came face-to-face with a challenge similar to the one he had confronted years earlier. A drunk man was about to beat up one of the other elders. What did our brother do? In a calm, humble manner, he reasoned with the drunk man, eased the tension, and helped the staggering man to get home. What had happened? Our brother had changed his dominant mental attitude. Deep within, he had been transformed into a peaceable, humble person—all to Jehovah’s praise!
10. What is involved in making these changes?
10 These changes do not take place overnight; nor do they occur automatically. We may need to exert “earnest effort” over a period of years. (2 Pet. 1:5) It is not as if being “in the truth” for a certain length of time were enough. We need to do our utmost to change our inner self. A number of basic steps will help us to make this change. Let us examine some of these.
HOW TO CHANGE OUR DOMINANT MENTAL ATTITUDE
11 Prayer is the important first step. We need to pray as did the psalmist: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and put within me a new spirit, a steadfast one.” (Ps. 51:10) We must acknowledge the need to change our dominant mental attitude and ask Jehovah for help. How can we be sure that Jehovah will help us to make the change? We can be encouraged by Jehovah’s promise regarding the hard-hearted Israelites in Ezekiel’s day: “I will give them a unified heart, and I will put a new spirit in them . . . and give them a heart of flesh, [that is, one sensitive to God’s guidance].” (Ezek. 11:19; ftn.) Jehovah was willing to help those Israelites to change, and he is willing to help us too.
12-13. (a) According to Psalm 119:59, on what do we need to meditate? (b) What questions should you ask yourself?
12 Meditation is the second vital step. As we peer into God’s Word each day, we need to take the time to meditate, or to think deeply, on what thoughts and feelings we need to change. (Read Psalm 119:59; Heb. 4:12; Jas. 1:25) We must identify any tendencies we may have to be attracted to human philosophies. We need to admit honestly what our weaknesses are and then work hard to get rid of those weaknesses.
13 For instance, ask yourself: ‘Is there a trace of envy or jealousy in my heart?’ (1 Pet. 2:1) ‘Do I feel a measure of pride because of my background, education, or financial status?’ (Prov. 16:5) ‘Do I look down on others who do not have the same things I have or who are from a different racial background?’ (Jas. 2:2-4) ‘Do I feel attracted to what Satan’s world offers?’ (1 John 2:15-17) ‘Do I feel drawn to immoral and violent entertainment?’ (Ps. 97:10; 101:3; Amos 5:15) The answers to these personal questions may highlight areas that you need to work on. By conquering what might be “strongly entrenched” reasonings in our hearts, we will please our heavenly Father.—Ps. 19:14.
14. Why is choosing good association so vital?
14 Choosing good association is the third necessary step. Whether we realize it or not, we are strongly influenced by those with whom we associate. (Prov. 13:20) At work or in school, we are likely surrounded by those who will not help us to develop godly thinking. However, we can find the best type of association at our Christian meetings. There is where we can be motivated, or stirred up, to “love and fine works.”—Heb. 10:24, 25, ftn.