New Powers Of Concentration
“I do not believe in the invisible and the intangible; seeing is believing with me.” The statement was made by a professed materialist to a Christian physician. “Do you believe in a human brain?” queried the doctor. “Well, yes, I do,” replied the materialist. “Have you ever seen one?” “No, doctor, to be honest, I have not, but I assume you have.” “You are correct, I have seen more than one, the brain is definitely tangible, and in many cases has been made visible.” “Let me ask you, have you ever seen the human mind?” asked the medical man. “No, I have not.” “Has anyone ever seen the mind?” “I suppose not.” “Then tell me, now,” pressed the doctor, “is there such a thing as mind, is it real, does it perform any important function, does anything depend upon it?” “Doctor, you certainly have sprung the trap; the mind is a wonderful reality, and mighty essential in human life.”
Thank God for the human mind, as fearfully and wonderfully made as the human body. How feeble are the attempts of men to explore the profound depths of its powers of perception, reason, judgment, and memory.
When the animal for the burnt-offering was cut into its four pieces, and was placed upon the brazen altar in the court of the Tabernacle to be offered before the Lord, the head was one of those pieces. As those who are anxious to learn more of the things of God, we must lay our head, our intellect, upon the altar for Christ. Of His own we thus give Him, for, inasmuch as He has blessed us with mental powers, we use these mental powers to bless Him. He has made known His mind to us in the Bible, so we use our mind in order to know more of Him through the Bible. Let us consider a few of the operations of the mind that prove helpful in Bible study.
OBSERVATION: In the reading of the Word of God., we should ever have this simple rule before us, “Observe the obvious.” In other words, we must focus our attention upon the Scriptures, so as to see the thing that is evident. As an illustration of this, we shall think together of the apostles, Paul and James. Throughout Paul’s history and ministry, it is easily detected that he naturally loved people. His labours were in the large cities, and the majority of his illustrations were drawn from human haunts and activities: buildings, temples, stadiums, athletes, soldiers, rulers, etc. With James, his relations with other people were entirely different, he travelled little beyond Jerusalem, and practically all his illustrations were drawn from nature: “The grass withereth,” “The Father of lights.” (the Father of the heavenly illuminaries) a “fountain of water,” tamed and wild beasts, birds, wind, fire, etc. A patient developing of such precious things as are obvious to any reader, will provide food for mind, strength for soul, and refreshment for the spirit.
CONCENTRATION: The statement that man thinks pictorially, is generally true. Sensory impulses produce menial images. These images pass through the mind in astonishing numbers and at high velocity; concentration, therefore, becomes the result of a dual effort. First, an effort must be made to deal with internal interference. This is accomplished by isolating the one mental picture we wish to maintain, by the elimination of all other images. For example, we wish to think of the life of the Apostle Paul, but there comes into our minds all we ever knew of the life of Julius Ceasar, Queen Victoria, Abraham Lincoln. The effort must be made to refuse such distractions and banish from the mind every divergent thought, forcing all attention upon the life of Paul. In second place, we must deal with external disturbances. The determination must be created, and the power exercised, to ignore the movements, the noises, the people, and the conditions, which surround us, so that, freed from every extraneous object and irrelevant subject, we may occupy our reasoning powers with the matter we wish to investigate; as in the example, the life of Paul.
REFLECTION: A common explanation of reflection is, that effort of the mind whereby we think attentively upon some matter several times. This explanation needs some amplification. Reflection actually is, not only the repeated thinking over of a certain matter, but a frequent thinking over of the same subject from different angles, and through several distinct approaches. As for example; we wish to think in a worshipful attitude of the Lord Jesus Christ. In our minds, the very suggestion of His precious name and title makes us think of His blessed person. Thoughts upon His person results upon a mental consideration of His pre-existence; this in turn leads us to the incarnation of Christ. As we ponder thus the fact of His birth; we are prompted to view the mystery of His personality, and to search out the profound wonder of how Deity and humanity could become so organically one. Through this, another mental suggestion, we are lead into still a different channel; the eternal existence in glory of this amazing combination of the two natures in Christ. In this entire mental process, we have been reflecting upon Christ, we have turned backward upon Him every new ray of light discovered. What a healthy spiritual exercise such mental exertion must be. It might well result in praise, adoration, and appreciation ascending to God from our hearts.
MEDITATION: Contemplation and meditation are occasionally considered as synonymous terms. There may exist this distinction; contemplation is the act of considering a subject by means of mental imagery; whereas, meditation is the act of pondering over a matter in the light of reason and logic. Of this we are sure, meditation is the thinking over of a matter with a definite purpose in view. Meditation is to the mind and spirit what assimilation is to the body. “I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food,” said Job. (Job 23:12) Assimilation is the absorption of nourishment by the body; meditation is the mental effort through which our souls absorb
spiritual nutrition. Alas! Alas! meditation is almost a lost art among the people of God. They have mistakenly associated it almost completely with the sombre days of mysticism in the Church’s history.
Let us, by the grace of God, and with true purpose of heart, improve our mental processes for effective Bible study. In the routine of the day, let us practise the effort of concentration. If we develop it in the matters of the home, office, or factory, it will become easier when we study our Bibles. In times of concentration, let us engage in serious reflection, involving in the progression skillful meditation in order that we may grow up into Christ.