Most likely, you’ve heard that you can’t believe everything that you hear. We know that there are so many conflicting ideas, theories, and opinions in the world. There’s a famous saying, or perhaps it’s a joke, “ask five economists (a question) and you’ll get five different answers – six if one went to Harvard” Edgar Fiedler. Over the years, and especially during my time in business school, I’ve heard variations on this idea – only the one that sticks out in my mind is “ask 100 economists a question and you’ll get 101 different answers.” If you’ve spent any time as an adult, or even young adult, on this earth you’ll recognize that conflicting information exists everywhere. And in our age, we can obtain that information instantly with a few keystrokes on the internet.
However, how often do you hear that you can’t believe everything that you think? We are conditioned by the world, and under a constant barrage of information. Even when we think that we’re not listening, I contend that we really are. And the information to which we are subject, flows into our minds. Some goes right out pretty much immediately, the really irrelevant stuff (and unfortunately for me some really relevant stuff too!), while many bits of information are filed into little sections of our brains for retrieval at a later date. Each bit of knowledge that we obtain, and even some that we lose, shapes our minds, and along with our life experiences, helps us to formulate our beliefs and thoughts.
My husband is a real thinker, and for those subjects that interest him, he goes after information like a lion whose hunger is way past being satiated. I watch him in wonder and amazement as he searches for deepening his understanding about the topic that has captivated his mind. I am fairly certain that by the time he’s done researching he’s very well versed on the topic. And, he has another quality that’s tied closely into this ability, that is he pretty much retains a lot of that information that he’s researched about (me, on the other hand, well my puny little brain does not retain as much as his – sigh). He uses every bit of that information that he gleans to formulate his opinion and beliefs. And, if you ask him, he will tell you about what he’s learned (and sometimes he will tell you even if you don’t ask him – 😃). It is one of his great strengths (and even more amazing to me because he has dyslexia). Now it does have it’s downfall if you’re not interested in the topic, especially if he begins to talk about the new oil bypass filter system that we put on our big rig – he can talk about that for hours!
What fills our minds will eventually flow into our hearts (beliefs) and then channel into our actions. Watching my husband as he does his research and then acts upon this knowledge has reinforced that lesson in me. I think back to the days when my generation was first introduced to the realm of personal computers and the phrase that I learned in my intro to computers class in college – “Garbage in, garbage out.” – that’s a very profound statement that also applies to our thoughts.
So, the real battles in our lives begin within our minds. Knowing this truth, what do we do with it? I know this – the longer I walk on this earth, the more I long to be in complete harmony with God, to experience all of God’s goodness and every blessing that He has in store for me. Since I know that the battle with sin starts in my mind, I cannot be in harmony with God if I don’t fix my thoughts on Him. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8, ESV).
I must stay in the Word, and let it breathe life into me. But, I cannot do that by simply just reading God’s Word every day, I have to study and understand what it says. I take the readings and from there, like my husband, I research – dig deeper into the Word of God. I look at what other respected Christian leaders (who are so much wiser than I) have to say. I make sure that their opinions line up with the scripture. And I dwell upon it. I let it occupy my thoughts, and I let it, and the Holy Spirit, work on my heart (beliefs), and ever so slowly those precious truths begin to manifest themselves in my actions. I attempt to stay in constant communication with God, big prayers and even little prayers – I call those little ones breath prayers, perhaps as little as three words such as “Lord help me.”
As long as I am alive, God has something to teach me. I just need to be receptive. The more receptive I am, the more He shapes me. And, the more I let him shape me into His vessel, hopefully, the less I sin. But even when I sin, and am moved to confess and repent, He offers me redemption and restoration through His grace and mercy and his agape love.
“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18, ESV)