The ancient biblical writers did not talk about opening the “mind,” of course, as that is a modern concept. Instead, writers in both the Old Testament and New Testament used the expression to “open the eyes,” meaning the same thing. In fact, antiquated as it might seem, the concept works well because our eyes are already open and yet need to be “opened” – just as people’s minds can be functional, yet may need to be opened spiritually, too. That is why Jesus said: “I praise you, Father… because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children” (Matthew 11:25; see also Matthew 13:13-14).
That is why the work of the coming messiah was foretold in just these terms by the prophet Isaiah: “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped” (Isaiah 35:5); “… to open eyes that are blind … to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42:7). When Christ commissioned Saul – the apostle Paul – it was to do the same work: “I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:17-19).
So the opening of the human mind to fully perceive and understand spiritual things requires God’s help. We may know this, but the understanding calls for the use of wisdom in several areas of the Christian life. First, in sharing our faith we cannot expect people to understand the truth of God’s word unless God is opening their minds to see it. That is something to be kept in mind at all times. Trying to “help” or force people to understand spiritual realities cannot work unless God is already calling.
Second, we should remember that people’s eyes are not usually “opened” all the way at one moment in time. God is gracious in revealing to us what we can handle before helping us to move to the next level of understanding and responsibility. We should always remember to have the same patience with those we aspire to help in the knowledge of the truth.
Finally, we must constantly remind ourselves that the fact spiritual eyes are opened slowly and not all at once is something we must apply to ourselves daily. It is always easy to presume – at every stage along the way – that we know or understand “most things.” But the truth is, the further we progress along the road of Christian growth, the more we become aware that we still have so much more to learn, so much more to understand. That is why David prayed – as we should, too – “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psalm 119:18). It’s a prayer we never outgrow.