Filling The Mind With Good Things
Pastor Steve Wellman, New Hope Church, 200 E. New Hope Road, Goldsboro,
Think about the word “information.” This term is a picture of combined words “In” and “Formed.” What we expose our minds to doesn’t remain neutral. We are shaped by what we permit entrance into our thoughts. When Paul offers the Philippians counseling and advises them not to be anxious over anything, there is a practical action they must take. It isn’t complicated. They are to “fill the mind with good things.” Some people consider themselves “news junkies.” The news plays in the background throughout the entire day. On the surface, something like the daily news seems harmless, but not for Paul. Christians are to guard everything we allow into the mind. Consider how there are children who know more about television characters than Bible characters. What outcome can we expect when that which goes in is less than wholesome? Paul proclaims to the Philippians that numerous voices surround our lives. Marketing analysts speak of the thousands of advertisements we encounter. Voices are continually promoting something that we need to make our lives complete. Behind all information is a worldview. Is the worldview of the information shaping us to become more Christlike, devoted to His kingdom, consumed with pleasing Him in all things, and striving for things that don’t fade but last forever?
One hour of church each week is insufficient to resist the voices we confront. Paul shows that we must be intentional in nurturing our thoughts on wholesome, pure, noble, and excellent things. This isn’t something that happens naturally or automatically. It must become a daily discipline. The consequences of failing in this practice are too high. Many of the spiritual problems we face, according to Paul, are the result of in-forming the mind with unhealthy exposure. It doesn’t have to be blatantly evil ideas. Anything that falls short of what is wholesome, pure, noble, and excellent is less than the highest and best Christ has for us. The spiritual realm has parallels to the physical realm. When we fill our bodies with less than wholesome things, our overall health is impacted. The accumulation of junk will produce consequences. Paul shows it is equally valid for our spiritual development. Too much TV watching, lousy reading, and inappropriate conversation all reach into our clay-like minds, shaping us, molding us, “in” “forming” us. Symptoms eventually surface, and we’ll wonder where our doubts have come from, where our discouragement comes from, and where depression comes from. It doesn’t just happen but is the result of habitual practices.
The fruits of the Spirit and the virtues Christ intends to develop in our lives don’t arise spontaneously. A farmer doesn’t wake up one morning to an abundant harvest that wasn’t planted and cultivated. What comes out is the result of what first goes in. Productive gardens must be weeded and cleaned. In the same way, our minds are like sponges absorbing all the ideas that saturate our waking moments. How would it look if we were to take an honest inventory of our daily exposure? Are we receiving 50% of worldly noise and 50% wholesome nourishing? When we are most truthful with ourselves, we’d know even equal distribution is an overstatement. We depend too much on too little. As spiritual disciplines decrease, worldly influence is on the increase. This is why Scripture is often interpreted through the lenses of worldly values rather than the other way around. When we are informed by wholesome, pure, noble, and excellent things, our outlook will change accordingly. A river can only rise as high as its source. If we are exposing ourselves only to the slow trickles of good things, we can’t expect the excellence Christ desires to take hold. We need nothing less than strong steady flow. The good things of God never happen by accident. God’s best requires us to honor Him by filling our minds with good things.