For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
—2 Timothy 1:7
I write this to the young Christian because you have the opportunity now, in your youth, to develop profitable, spiritual disciplines that will lead to mental health and wisdom as you age. You have just as much stewardship over your mind and heart as you do over your body. If you cut your arm off, God can still use you, but your amputation will have life-long consequences. We can say much the same thing for our minds. Indeed, if put to a choice, a sound mind is better than two arms.
For some reason psychological problems are considered by many to be something that “just happens” to people because of “chemical imbalances” OR the result of mistreatment by others. While this may be true in some instances, I am convinced that for most people today mental illness develops because of the choices we make and the thoughts we entertain.
While there are indeed psychological illnesses that are the result of genetics and/or disease, I am convinced that most mental illness develops over time as the direct result of an ungodly thought life and worldliness.
There is a way to think that leads to mental and spiritual health and a way to think that leads to mental instability and godlessness.
HOW we think and WHAT we meditate upon says a lot about what SPIRIT is active in our thinking. Unhealthy patterns of thought, once surrendered to, often lead to mental and spiritual ruin.
It is a fact that most people with deep, psychological problems manifest more profound mental instability later in life. It’s not that these problems were not present earlier in life, but they often become more acute with age. That is, we can often see a progression of mental illness over the years.
Many people develop into young adulthood with an unhealthy thought-life. If this is not repented of and deliberate efforts are not sought to change unhealthy ways of thinking, over time patterns form in the mind. In this way one can become a slave to destructive thoughts and behaviors that are all at dissonance with reality.
In this way many people are culpable for their “mental illnesses”, for they are not so much the result of a “chemical imbalance in the brain”, but that of sustained, unhealthy thinking and unrestrained passions/emotions.
There is multi-billion dollar “Self Help/Personal Development” industry out there to help people cultivate more “successful” life disciplines and ways of thinking. I think there is some truth to what you will read under this category. Ultimately, however, for the Christian, this subject is addressed in the Bible as a spiritual problem with practical, spiritual solutions.
We are to be constantly renewing our minds by the Spirit of Grace as we learn of and live in Christ. A faithful Christian life should ordinarily result in mental and spiritual stability. He is the Spirit of “a sound mind.”
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ…
—1 Peter 1:13