I believe the National Football League was the first major sport in America to introduce and utilize instant replay as a part of the game in 1986. It had been used previously for entertainment purposes but was now would be used by the referees to make actual calls during a game.
The referee would look very closely at the play on video review until he was satisfied he made the right call.
It might be prudent for us to also "stop the game" in our lives and makes such reviews from time to time. If you're like me, it can feel difficult and annoying to slow down the pace of this fast-paced world to examine my life. With so much to do, and so little time to do it, we often resist taking time out to examine things more closely to make sure we are "making the right calls" in our lives!
CHECK YOUR BRAIN!
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—MEDITATE ON THESE THINGS.
Even in the Old Testament, the focus of our thoughts, or what we allow into our hearts, is identified as the source of the issues of our lives.
Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.
Jesus also confirmed that evil comes from what is in our hearts:
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.
As Christians, we agree with Paul's list when it comes to our conscious thoughts. Yet we seem clueless when it comes to what we allow into our subconscious!
The words or music we listen to and the images we allow into our minds are also part of our thought life. They can enter our subconscious and influence our mindset and ultimately, our actions. If certain thoughts are being planted into our minds, it does not matter whether we intend for them to become a part of our thinking or not. They will! Should we not then make every effort to assess what goes into our minds and hearts with great care and diligence?
In the past, congregations known as "Holiness" churches sometimes went too far in listing activities which were acceptable or unacceptable for Christians. Music was divided into "secular" and Christian. Dresses were to be ankle length. Alcohol, tobacco, gum and movies were sinful and should be completely abstained from by every Christian.
There can be error in being overly legalistic in setting the same rules for every person. Many have responded by rejecting any standards as "legalism."We have a way of countering error by allowing the pendulum to swing too far in the other direction. Just because all movies are not sinful does not mean that all movies are good for our thought life! Music that is not specifically "Cristian" is not necessarily sinful but it may be harmful!
The tests are simple. Does what we listen to or watch meet the criteria of Paul's list? Does it enhance or detract from the quality of our walk with God? What is the spirit and the message behind it?
Do we accept anything and everything into our mouths without hesitation because all foods are acceptable to God. I am not concerned if food is from America, Canada, Africa, India, Israel, China, Russia or Australia. In fact, I thoroughly enjoy the variety of foods which come from many different countries and cultures!
However, if one of the the ingredients on the label of a food I am about to eat is cyanide, I am pretty sure I would not eat any of it - not even a single bite! I am not rejecting it because it is a type or style or food, but because it contains poison! Hello - I am not putting poison into my body.
It does not matter how delicious it might look, if it is one of my favorite foods or how hungry I am, I will not eat it!
Most of us would agree to this approach to eating. At the same time, many of us give very little thought to what goes into our minds or hearts!
What are the "ingredients" of the music we listen to? Do they contain "poison" messages of hate, lust, greed, self-pity or rebellion - all the things which are contrary to God's will and His ways?
I do not wish to be burned at the stake as being "legalistic," but is it wrong to be just as selective about what we allow to come into our ears and eyes as much as we would our mouths?
I do not set myself up as judge to create a list for every song, video, speech, book or internet sight we allow into our thoughts. Nor do I suggest that if one wrong sound or image is allowed into your mind, you will be instantly possessed by the devil.
Yet I cannot imagine that what we listen to or watch has no effect on the quality of our Christian lives particularly if it is being regularly pumped into our minds! Can we really deceive ourselves into believing that we can have words, music or images pumped into our minds and have absolutely no effect on us?
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
The Greek word for transformed is metamorphoó. It is the root of the English word, metamorphosis. One example of metamorphosis is when a caterpillar changes into a butterfly!
The same word is translated transfiguration when speaking of Jesus' transformation before Peter, James and John on the mountain:
1 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves;
2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.
A glimpse of Jesus' glory was revealed when He was transfigured on the mountain. Paul tells us that we can be transformed by the RENEWING OF THE MIND! I am not suggesting that our faces will literally shine like the son or your clothes be supernaturally "Oxi-Cleaned" but there will be a real and powerful change - if our minds are renewed.
Doesn't it also work in the opposite direction? If our minds are renewed by thoughts contrary to God, will we not also be transformed in that direction?
The problem is that the effect is often subtle. "I visited that website and I didn't become a serial killer." "I played that video game and I didn't become violent." Perhaps not - but it will eventually take its toll and hinder your spiritual life at some level!
Can a man take fire to his bosom and his clothes not be burned?
Perhaps it will only result in spiritual mediocrity. Do we really want anything to lessen our transformation, cause us to shine less brightly or run the race more slowly?
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
...lay aside every weight.
Everything we do may not technically be "sins" but some can be "weights!"
I don't like taking some medicines because they make me drowsy and my mind less sharp. (I need all the help I can get!) And I certainly do not want to have weights on when I play sports. (I am heavy enough without them!)
We should all ask ourselves some important questions about what we allow into our lives:
- Is the music I listen to encouraging me to live for God or is it a "weight" which is slowing me down?
- Could the the images, movies and TV shows I see affect my spiritual life?
- Do the people I spend the most time with strengthen my walk with God or do they pull me away from God?
- Should I spend more time consuming spiritual "nutrition" and less on spiritual "junk food?"
This is not a once-and-done action but should be revisited often!
The purpose is not to beat ourselves up for past mistakes or to "earn" God's blessings by our own efforts. It is to strive toward getting in better shape spiritually, toward the purity which allows us to see God more clearly and prepares us to be used by Him!
You might be surprised how much of the negative input in your life you can do without and how your life can be transformed when you renew your mind in the things of God!
If you agree, disagree or would like to add an insight or comment…
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