Jesus applauded the confession of Peter’s profound announcement that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Yet, not soon after, speaking to Peter, Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” (Matthew 16:23).
Like Peter we teeter-totter from thinking on the things of God to the things of man. We can go from being a solid rock of influence to becoming a stumbling block of destruction. And it all transpires in our mind. Where does your mind dwell? Our mindset is crucial to whether we are making an impact for the kingdom or making an impasse.
We read the conversation between Jesus and Peter in Matthew 16:15-19 and 16:23 and wonder, “How could Peter go from being on tract to being totally off so quickly?” I suggest that we not be too hard on Peter as we do the same every day. The Psalmist says, “They bless with their mouth, but inwardly they curse.” Another says, “Some speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts.” And finally, we are tempted to mask our heart with “…speech that is smooth as butter, even though there is war in our heart; our words can be soothing like oil, yet inwardly we are drawn to swords.” The intent of the heart is driven by the thoughts of man.
Because our minds direct our hearts, what’s in our heart is truly what we are judged for. Amen? We may speak blessing, but does our heart live in doubt, or is it filled with fear and troubled by our circumstances? These eventually come forth when we don’t understand or worry about the future. Like Peter, he knew that Jesus was the Messiah, but fear of Jesus following His Father’s will and finishing His work was troublesome to the human side of His heart. I believe that Peter feared not having the Son of God with him in physical form. Not having Jesus in physical form would mean that Peter would have to totally rely on the words of Christ and the power of His unseen Spirit. This would take a bit more faith, wouldn’t you agree?
Sadly, if Satan can get a hold of our minds and infuse fear and worry, he can gain control of our heart and the direction of our actions. Let us not give into fear, for we were not given a spirit of fear, but of power. Live in the power of God’s word; saturate yourself with his truth; and you will find that it’s easier to combat the human side of the heart and set your mind on things above where Christ is (Colossians 3:1-2). If this is your mission, then stability of faith and balance of spirit will be your fruit.
I believe that this fruit is what it means to “take up our cross daily and follow Jesus.” To deny ourselves is to deny our human way of thinking. Once our human way of thinking is crucified daily, it allows us to think thoughts driven by the Spirit of God and not that of man. In the end, we make God-centered decisions and find power to accept whatever comes our way in the process!