By Pastor Bob Myers
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. - Philippians 4:8-9 (MSG)
This text prescribes a self-governing of the mind. It calls us to pull up the drawbridge to things that are unwholesome and degrading. It commands us to saturate the attention to things that uplift and inspire. It is diametrically opposed to what makes journalism garner large audiences. It is a prescription against pre-occupation with news stories and current event wall-to-wall covering.
One of the great liberties we have as image-bearers is that we get to choose what we pay attention to. We can change the channel. We can turn the channel off. We can displace the things that outrage us with the things that make us tender-hearted.
The daily news cycle deceives us in a number of ways. First of all, it makes us think that what is current is what is important. We over-rate what is happening right now in terms of what has lasting value. Then we over-stay, focusing on it with a kind of self-induced urgency.
But media is only one front of the battle. We also need to change the channel on how we view the people we are around. 2 Corinthians 5 calls us to no longer view anyone from a worldly perspective. What if we viewed everyone as a person Christ loves and died for, and in whom the Spirit is at work?
What if we every day shared positive traits about another person. Are you ever at a loss for words? The most audience pleasing, always appropriate speech begins with “I’d like to express my deep thanks to and for the following people and tell you why I’m thankful.
Liz and I once attended a marriage conference that began by assigning us to write 25 sentences about each other. Each sentence was to begin with “I appreciate you because ___________”. As couples read their list aloud to each other, many were in tears, but all were affected positively.
We once took a discipleship course where we were required to never complain, not even complain a little itsy bit, never make an excuse, not even when we were late because of traffic, never run someone down, even a little bit, and to always impugn the most positive motives to other’s behavior. By trying to go completely cold turkey on all of these negative practices it made us realize our desperate need for grace. These commands are impossible for anyone to fully carry out. But these commands feed the human heart with positivity and graciousness when they are heeded.
Our thought patterns carve channels into our brains. Our brains will govern our personalities and attitudes. Our attitudes will develop into strongholds of character. Seeking the mind of Christ comes from loving Christ and knowing we are deeply loved.
What channel are you allowing to play uninterrupted? That channel will become the sound track for your life. And your life will line up with the music or talk that you listen to!