“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.  Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.” 

Latest research by educator Carol Dweck, PhD, reveals having a fixed mindset leads to choosing appearances. This mindset believes the intelligence you have will never change and you have to defend it. The fixed mindset avoids challenges, takes the easy way out, ignores criticism, claims hopelessness, and feels threatened by the success of others. In contrast, a growth mindset means learning more is possible and desirable, challenges can be accepted, obstacles can be overcome, expending effort is important, and learning from the success of others is inspiring. Having a growth mindset is being motivated to be and do your best (for the believer, being all God has called us to be). What we think, and how we think, fuels our behavior and predicts our success, according to these studies.

Jesus says in this letter to the Sardis church, “you have the reputation for being alive, but you are dead, wake up, strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.”   He is telling them they appear alright but they are not, according to the all- seeing and all- knowing eyes of God. He said he knows their deeds, he didn’t say they weren’t good enough, they were just “unfinished”. He doesn’t say what deeds were unfinished either. Let’s suggest some believers in Sardis might have had a fixed mindset, and there were some believers in Sardis who did understand life and growth. Jesus says the latter actually walk with him (verse 4).

Growth is an ongoing invitation in the Christian’s life. You can only be one or the other, growing or not. We can’t drift into maturity, wholeness, and finish the work God calls us to without his help, and joining arms with fellow believers in the church (Ephesians 4:15-16). We are called to not get weary, (1 Corinthians 15:58). “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). We are called to press on (Hosea 6:3). We are called to be alert, to wake up (1 Peter 5:8). We are called to fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12). The church is a living organism. We are called to a growth mindset (1 Peter 2:1-5). God is infinite, we will never stop learning about him on this side of glory and Randy Alcorn, author of Heaven, says we won’t stop learning there either. God is committed to the process of our growth. (Philippians 3:12-16). “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Would you consider yourself one who has a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? Do you have a mentor, friend, and/or small group that you can depend on to see how you are growing and keep you accountable to a growth mindset?

By Donna Burns  

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