(2) John Owen: Spiritually Minded Grief


So… are you spiritually minded or not? How can you tell? In the last post we looked at why Owen so was concerned about the spiritual mindedness of Christians in his day – “As a person thinks, so he is!” We can be tempted to test for spiritual mindedness in ourselves and others in a whole bunch of ways – In Chapter three and four Owen gives a few examples of UNRELIABLE tests, and a MORE RELIABLE test. I’ll include Owen’s text in red, followed by a few reflection questions.

unreliable test one: “People who enjoy listening to good preaching are not NECESSARILY spiritually minded. There were many in Christ’s day who enjoyed his preaching. But, as Jesus taught in the parable of the sower, as soon as the preaching was finished they forgot what they had heard.”

Reflection: – Why not read Matthew 13:18-22 (parable of the sower) and reflect upon how you respond to hearing God’s word. – Does hearing of God’s word stimulate our LOVE of God, or only our knowledge of scripture? Pray that God would bless you with the former.

unreliable test two: “People who can pray fluently are not NECESSARILY spiritually minded. Some people have natural gifts of speech, but such gifts do not prove that they are spiritual. Natural gifts make believers more useful in the service of Christ, but what has to be examined is wether there are also present, humility, reverence for God and Love.”

Reflection: – Do you allow your gifts or abilities in any area to mask the lack of “Love for God” in your thinking?

unreliable test three: “If spiritual thoughts are ONLY EVER produced by some outside stimulation [Owen is referring to conversation/arguments with others] then they cannot be arising from spiritual mindedness within a person.”

Reflection: – Do your “spiritual” thoughts ONLY arise from debate with others, or also from your own affection for God?

a slightly more reliable test: “Those who are truly spiritually minded will be GRIEVEDwhen they realise they have missed an opportunity for spiritual meditation. ‘How foolish’ they will say ‘to miss such an opportunity'”. “Are our spiritual thoughts like guests visiting an Hotel, or like children living at home. There is a temporary stir and bustle when guests arrive, yet within a little while they leave and are forgotten. The hotel is then prepared for other guests. So it is with religious thoughts that are only occasional. But children belong to their house. They are missed if they don’t come home. Preparation is continually being made for their food and comfort. Spiritual thoughts that arise from true spiritual mindedness are like the children of the house – always expected, and certainly enquired for if missing.”

Reflection: – Where does your mind turn to, what does your mind dwell upon when it finds itself unexpectedly free from our usual activities? – On the way to work (or wherever) jot down Romans 12:1-2 and Psalm 119. Pray that God would renew your mind and thinking in this way.


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