Does your diet consist of spiritually wholesome food or garbage?
The acronym GIGO stands for garbage in, garbage out. If you fill something up with garbage, what can you expect to get out of it? More garbage! And if we fill our mind with what is evil, worthless, demoralizing, and profane — we can expect more of the same to come out in our thoughts and actions.
That’s one of the reasons I don’t like to watch movies with foul language. When I was young, I noticed that after I saw one of these shows, over the next few days my mind would replay the profanity, and it became easier for one of those words to slip into my speech. The same happens when we listen to crude jokes, gossip, ridicule, criticism or complaints. In some way, all of these degrade others and treat them less than someone made in God’s image. If you soak in enough of it, your mindset and how you view others will change for the worse, too.
The same is true when we obsess on our faults, past failures, missed opportunities, and the obstacles we face. These are all part of life and must be dealt with. That is one of the wonderful things about a relationship with Jesus. The Holy Spirit helps us learn from our mistakes and then take us to amazing heights we thought we thought unattainable. But if you consume yourself with discouraging and disparaging thoughts, you’ll never get off square one.
Godly In, Godly Out
So what should we do? Our culture is so full of this stuff we would almost have to leave the planet to avoid it. We may be unable to avoid this trash entirely, but we still can control what we expose ourselves to, and we definitely can change what we keep in our head. Instead of garbage, focus on what is godly. What is that? Paul tells us in Philippians:
Finally, brother [and sisters], whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you. (Phil. 4:8,9)
Let’s look at each of these qualities and their opposites.
TRUE: those things that are based in reality, lasting, satisfy the desires of our heart, and found in God himself.
The opposite: That which is deceptive, illusory, cannot satisfy, and fails to deliver what it promises.
HONORABLE: Things we honor and treat with dignity.
The opposite: Things we dishonor, degrade, ridicule, trivialize and debase.
JUST: As justice means giving someone their due, we consider what is our duty to God and others.
The opposite: To dwell on ourselves and our own wants and desires; to pursue selfishness.
PURE: Clean, uncontaminated. To see people as God sees them; to see objects and the people in this world as God intended.
The opposite: Unclean, filthy, contaminated. To see people as Satan wants us to see them: as objects to be used for selfish pleasure or motives.
LOVELY: That which inspires us and calls forth love, kindness, and virtue.
The opposite: That which discourages us and causes us to wallow in self-pity. Vices. That which is wicked and evil.
GRACIOUS: Thoughts and words that build us and others up. To show honor, courtesy, and respect. To give others grace and show mercy when we have the power to attack and destroy.
The opposite: Using our language to tear others down. To dishonor and disrespect. Emphasizing other’s faults. To ridicule.
EXCELLENCE: The highest ideas and ideals. That which inspires us to go further. To see things not just as they are, but as they were meant to be as designed by our Creator.
The opposite: To dwell on faults, mistakes, failures. Lack of faith. Crassness. That which arouses hatred and despair.
ANYTHING WORTHY OF PRAISE: Those things that we would honor and praise in others.
The opposite: The things that should be despised or abhorred.
A Change of Direction
If you’ve been one to harbor the ungodly instead of the godly, it’s not too late to change. Until you do, you can be sure of this: you will never have peace in your heart! You can’t hold what is godly and evil in your soul at the same time. Here are four simple steps you can take to turn things around:
Control what goes in. Stop watching the shows or YouTube videos that fill your mind with junk. Refuse to listen to gossip, people criticizing and complaining about others, degrading talk, and anything else that puts your mind in the mud.
Set boundaries. Set limits on what you will think about, say or do. What kind of limits? Don’t ever go to pornographic websites. Remove profanity from your language. Never offer criticism with unkindness or without also being ready to suggest a better way. Once we cross boundaries, it becomes difficult not to keep sliding down deeper, so set your boundaries far enough back so you won’t fall over the edge.
Do the opposite. When tempted to take in or spout out junk, do the opposite. Hang out with people who will inspire you instead of pull you down. Read things that will build you up. Instead of insulting someone, find something to compliment.
Fill up on the good stuff. Reading the Bible would be a good start. Listen to speakers that inspire and challenge you to go further and live up to your calling.