This weekend we’re running two articles back-to-back on the theme, your thought life, that are themselves back-to-back compilations of other articles. In 2014, it turns out we ran two articles just three months apart with the same header…
For several years the Christian Booksellers Association* adopted the phrase
What Goes Into a Mind Comes Out in a Life
as a promotional tool to encourage reading. The idea was that as you saturate your mind with the truths of God’s Word, Christian literature, and Christian music, you will be changed by what you listen to and read.
However, the opposite is also true.
If your mind is saturated with unhealthy thoughts and ideas, it will manifest itself in several ways:
In your conversation: We all have heard the Biblical principle that out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Even the most guarded, careful, filtered person will let something slip that betrays where their heart is wandering. Or they may lose interest in topics that would normally engage them.
Stresses: For the Christian, having made poor choices in the area of inputs and influences will result in an inner conflict that may come to the surface in being short or snappy with the people we love or people we’re close to. The inner turmoil may simply result from a feeling of personal failure.
Distractions: A mind focused on things below instead of things above will inevitably be un-ordered, resulting in forgetting to return a phone call, missing a payment deadline, forgetting the directions to an appointment. Time allocation to responsibilities may slip noticeably.
Acting Out: Experts say that people dealing with online addictions often end up taking some action as a result of the content they have been viewing, but we tend to think of that as more overt. In fact, acting out often takes places in subtle ways that are more tangential to the addiction than direct. It’s possible that only the person themselves knows that the behavior trigger.
Reticence: Other people whose mind is otherwise preoccupied will simply become withdrawn. An unhealthy mind condition will manifest itself similar to worry and anxiety. For the Christian who senses that they are moving away from The Cross instead of moving toward The Cross, they may opt to retreat from their fellowship group or simply be less animated than is typical.
…Of course, I write all this not out of extensive reading in Christian counseling or a background in Christian psychology, but out of personal experience. The dictum to know thyself, means we ought to be able to identify some of the danger signs when we’re in the middle of mind-battle, or when we’re losing that fight. But a concerned friend or a discerning acquaintance will also be able to identify these signs and then care enough to confront the individual in question.
For a previous article on the idea of “moving toward the cross” versus “moving away from the cross” click here.
I’ve been thinking about the story below and how it applies to today’s environment where both men and women struggle with online addiction. Images and ideas flood our minds and although not everyone who looks at pornography fully recreates the scenes they view, often people “act out” in less conscious, less overt ways. That’s why when people go offline, they essentially “detoxify” their minds and they start to live differently.
I thought this story was rather common and assumed everyone had received it as an email at some time or other, but when I tried to find it online, I only got one link. Maybe you need this, or know someone who does.
Let this story stay with you, it applies in so many areas of life.
We are all fighting a battle within ourselves… The illustration goes like this: There is a old Indian chief telling a story about how each of us have two rival dogs, a good dog and a bad dog. Both are always fighting each other. Sometimes it seems like the good dog is winning other times it appears like the bad dog is winning.
One of the tribal members asks, “So, how do you know which one will win?”
To which the chief replies, “It depends which dog you feed.”
* It was either the CBA in Canada, the U.S., or both that used this phrase, it was very effective and ought to be brought back. What goes into a mind overflows to what is spoken, visible, etc.