The Secret of Radiant Living
Peter J. Wade
The awe-inspiring abilities latent within the human mind
are indeed wonderful and important to the believer.
One of these great abilities is mentioned in the book of
Colossians, chapter three, verse two:
Set your affection on things above, not on things on
Here we are exhorted to set our thinking (the word
"affection" is phroneō, mind) on the things of God. Your
mind has the ability to concentrate upon a specific thing,
and to remain in that state of concentration for a
considerable period of time.
There are mentioned in The Word specific things
upon which we, as believers, should concentrate our
thinking. We are also blessed with several records of men
who concentrated on things other than what the Father
intended. As we examine these we can learn by their
mistakes. The records clearly show what was the outcome
of their concentration upon inferior things, and, above all,
how these men were brought back to a right
understanding of what they should concentrate upon.
How to be Miserable
Asaph, the psalmist, gives us our first insight into this
subject in Psalm 77. He tells us of the time in his own life
when he faced serious problems. His autobiography in
this Psalm tells us, "In the day of my trouble I sought the
Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul
refused to be comforted" (verse 2). His mind refused to be
comforted. In the midst of tremendous trouble he says: "I
remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and
my spirit was overwhelmed" (verse 3).
He briefly remembered the greatness and the
goodness of God to him in past days, and yet he was
troubled. He could not conceive why this particular
problem was upon him, nor why, as he thought, God had
left him alone. As his mind went from thinking about the
great things of the past days to the terrible problems of the
present his spirit was overwhelmed. So much so he tells
us in verse four, "I am so troubled that I cannot speak."
Psychologically this description speaks of tremendous
Even though we do not speak, the human mind is always active. Asaph found that while his problem was so
great he could not speak, yet his mind began recalling
some of the events prior to this crisis. "I have considered
the days of old, the years of ancient times" (verse 5). He
remembered the goodness of God in past days. "I call to
remembrance my song in the night" (verse 6) – that great
time when through the sheer exuberance of joy I sang in
the darkest night. "I commune with mine own heart: and
my spirit made diligent search" (verse 6).
Why has this happened to me? "Will the Lord cast off
for ever?", he queries in verse seven, "and will he be
favourable no more?" Has my day of grace ended? Has
my wonderful fellowship with the Father somehow come
to an end? Doesn't He like me any more?
Verse eight continues in the same questioning vein -
the human mind at work in the midst of trouble. "Is his
mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore?" Are God's promises finished with now? Does this
mean that everything God has promised will no longer
come to pass? The questioning continues, "Hath God
forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his
tender mercies? Selah" (verse 9).
If we were honest we would admit that many times
our mind has followed a similar pattern. Undoubtedly
each one of us could write as graphic description of the
working of the mind in the midst of trouble as this Psalm.
However, what is written here is written for our learning.
We should now carefully observe how this man was
able to get on the right track once again. In his autobiography, he says, "And I said, This is my infirmity: but I
will remember the years of the right hand of the most
High. I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will
remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all
thy work, and talk of thy doings. Thy way, O God, is in
the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God? Thou
art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy
strength among the people" (verse 10-14).
What made the difference? What caused this sudden
statement of thanks and praise to God? This man had
found that as long as he looked within, as long as he sat
there and let his mind ramble on in the field of negative
thinking, just so long would he be miserable. But the
moment he started thinking about the greatness and the
goodness of God, and this was spoken out in a positive
confession, at that moment the problem sank into insignificance.
We, too, should be careful about what we concentrate
upon. To concentrate upon yourself, your own unworthiness, your supposed inability, will always drag you down.
Multitudes of Christian believers are constantly exhorted
to search their hearts and examine themselves. How far
greater it would be if we spent our time considering what
God has done for us in Christ Jesus, considering how we
can manifest in a greater measure the more abundant life
that Jesus came to give us. Let us learn the lesson well,
that as long as we look within we shall be miserable.
How to be Distracted
Another autobiography that will help us in our quest is
given in Psalm 73. This honest and factual account of the
working of the human mind should again be noted carefully. This particular man did not spend time looking
within but his error was equally as bad. Looking back
upon the incident, he starts with a positive statement in
verse one, "Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as
are of a clean heart. But as for me," he says in verse two,
"my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh
slipped." He felt very insecure, as if he was perhaps slipping rapidly into insanity.
The interesting thing to us in our current search is that
he clearly tells us what caused this state. Verse three
commences with the word "for," giving us the reason for
the statement of verse two. "For I was envious at the
foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." With
this particular man the problem was not of looking within,
of feeling unworthy, of feeling unable to do things; his
problem was looking at other people. These people had no
faith in God, were out to make every penny they could,
and were people to whom it seemed nothing ever went
He lists carefully his observations in verse four and
following. He notices first their good health and
abounding strength, causing them to swell with pride.
Their own ability to supply their needs and greeds makes
them people whose "eyes stand out with fatness: they
have more than heart could wish" (verse 7). Because
nothing ever went wrong with them, or so it seemed, they
spoke "wickedly concerning oppression" (verse 8). They
did not mind what they said or to whom they said it –
"they speak loftily." In fact so sure were they of their
position they spoke against the heavens itself, against the
greatness and goodness of God. "How doth God know?
and is there knowledge in the most High?" (verse 11).
In verse twelve he seems to conclude the whole
matter. "Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in
the world; they increase in riches." His accurate
observations sound like the twentieth century. People with
health and prosperity, but without ethics, morals and
above all, without a knowledge of God.
The observation of these things cause this man to
literally sit down and wring his hands in despair all day
long. He tells us that when he thought to know these
things it was too painful for him. This man learned that
when we look around we are distracted from the major
emphasis of life. We are distracted from the attitudes,
beliefs and concepts which should characterize the
believer. Looking around will always cause distraction,
even as looking within will cause us to be miserable.
We must continue further in this autobiography and
discover how this man got back on the right track once
again. The great secret of his change in thinking is given
in verse seventeen: "Until I went into the sanctuary of
God; then understood I their end." Until he went to the
place where God's Word was spoken, where God's praise
was given, he could not comprehend the situation. There
in God's house he thought and dwelt upon the greatness
and goodness of God. He then realized that the situation
was actually the reverse of what he had been thinking
In verse two he told us his feet had almost gone and
well nigh slipped. But in verse eighteen he states clearly
to God, "Surely thou didst set them in slippery places:
thou castedst them down into destruction." The situation
was exactly the reverse. Instead of his feet being slippery,
he was the one who was secure. But they, the wicked and
prosperous ones, were indeed slippery. "How are they
brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly
consumed with terrors" (verse 19).
The secret is obvious. Spend time searching The
Word, filling your mind with the great thoughts of all God
has done for you in Christ Jesus. Then you will see things
from God's point of view and not from the point of view
of this world.
This man saw the error of his ways for he tells us in
verses 21 and 22, "Thus my heart was grieved, and I was
pricked in my reins [in my mind]. So foolish was I, and
ignorant: I was as a beast before thee." But he says now,
"Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast
holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with
thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory" (verses
To look within will make us miserable; to look around
will make us distracted. Then where should we look?
Upon what should we concentrate our thinking?
How to be Radiant
To understand the positive view point as to what we
should concentrate upon we will look at several verses in
different parts of The Word. Since we have used the
Psalms for our material so far in this study we will look
first at Psalm 34:5, "They looked unto him, and were
radiant" (American Standard Version). This statement of
fact is given by David, following his testimony of God's
goodness in his life. "I sought the Lord, and he heard me,
and delivered me from all my fears" (verse 4). He then
states, "They looked unto him, and were radiant," to show
that this situation is common to all God's people who will
adjust and control their thinking.
The result of looking unto Him is to become radiant;
to have a smile on your lips, a thrill in your heart and a
spring in your step. Since God is Spirit, this looking unto
Him cannot mean a physical look. It means concentrating
upon the nature and acts of a loving Father.
In the book of Hebrews we are exhorted to look to
Jesus. In chapter twelve and verse two we read, "Looking
unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith." The
impact of the words "looking unto" is interesting and vital
in the Greek. A more literal translation would be,
"Looking away from all else unto Jesus." Not just a brief
glimpse or a fleeting thought, but a continued, prolonged
concentration upon what God did for us in Christ Jesus.
We should look unto Jesus, for He said, "He that hath
seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9).
The next verse in Hebrews twelve gives added light
on this subject. "For consider him. . . lest ye be wearied
and faint in your minds" (verse 3). Both verses two and
three signify an action that we are to do by an act of our
will. There is a choice involved; we can do it or we can
choose not to do it. We can choose to look unto Him and
be radiant, or we can choose not to consider Him and thus
become wearied and faint in our minds. There is only one
intelligent and logical choice for the believer: to look
away from all else unto Jesus.
A similar exhortation is found in Hebrews 3:1,
"Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly
calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our
profession, Christ Jesus." Again we are exhorted to
consider Christ, especially in relation to what God did for
us in Christ Jesus and freely made available to every
born-again believer. How great, how wonderful, how
thrilling it is to fill our minds with the greatness of The
The important things in life are not those things which
we can see but rather eternal, spiritual things which cannot be observed by the human eye. In II Corinthians 4:18
we read, "While we look not at the things which are seen,
but at the things which are not seen: for the things which
are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen
are eternal." Again the exhortation is given to fill our
minds with spiritual things. Undoubtedly as we live our
natural lives in a material world, there are many things we
must think upon. However, the real, lasting things are the
spiritual. Surely if these are the things that are going to
count then we should spend much time concentrating
Let us consider one more verse that will help us in
understanding the object which should fill our minds.
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is
stayed on thee" (Isaiah 26:3). This perfect and constant
peace is something to be desired by every believer. It is
available as we spend time keeping our mind, our
thoughts upon God.
Considering unitedly all these great promises we find
the secret of how to be radiant. It is simply looking unto
God; looking unto Jesus; looking not at the things which
are seen, but the things which are not seen; staying our
mind upon Him.
Let us remember, looking within will make us miserable; looking around will cause us to be distracted; but
looking unto Him is the great secret of radiant Christian li