Poor Peter! He had just confessed that Jesus was the “Messiah, the Son of the living God,” and Jesus had just congratulated him for his keen insight (Matthew 16:16). Surely Peter was elated. But just moments later, Jesus is rebuking him in the harshest terms for trying to keep him from the cross. “Get behind me, Satan,” he says. “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (16:23). Can you imagine how frustrating Peter must have felt?What caused Jesus to change his tone so quickly?
This story tells us that our minds can be influenced by God one moment and by the devil in the very next moment, and we may not be able to tell the difference. It tells us that we need to learn how to reason in faith, or how to think “as God does,” if we want to see our spiritual lives grow (Matthew 16:23).
Peter probably reflected on these two events. He must have asked, “Why did Jesus commend me here but rebuke me there?” He must have asked Jesus to help him. Over time, he learned more and more about the way God thinks. Over time, he became more able to understand God’s mind and to live a life that reflected God’s plan. How else could he have become one of the wisest and most devoted members of the early Church?
Here is a good way to sharpen your ability to reason in faith. Every day, take one situation and ask, “Jesus, what would you do here?”. This simple little prayer can open the door to God’s grace and change the way you think. Scripture promises that you can “be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2). With time, patience, and practice, you can come to discern what is “good and pleasing and perfect” in every situation (12:2).