In the parable of the sower, Jesus explained that the “worries of this life” can “choke the word, making it unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:22)
While this parable chiefly refers to people’s response to the Gospel, I believe the principle also applies to us as followers of Christ. Namely, if we allow the worries of this life to occupy our thoughts and energies it will choke God’s Word in our hearts.
The worries of this life have increased in pandemic proportions this past year and show no signs of letting up. Where you stand on various issues (e.g., COVID and politics) isn’t the point of this article. Instead, my point is to challenge us regarding the preoccupations of our thoughts and conversations.
By this, I’m not saying we shouldn’t have opinions or get involved in some way, rather I’m writing about our spiritual, emotional, and physical wellbeing. So please allow me to offer a sort of litmus test as to the health of our thoughts and conversations.
To what extent do our thoughts and conversations evoke…
- Worry and anxiety?
- Dissention and disunity?
- All-consuming negative preoccupations?
- Un-Christlike behaviors?
If our thoughts and conversations are producing any of the above, then we’re allowing these things to choke out the effectiveness of God’s Word in our lives and the lives of others. Not to mention the fact that these emotions and behaviors can ruin our physical and emotional health as well.
Instead, here is a much better, more godly and productive way to fill our minds:
Writing from prison in Rome, Paul urged Christ followers in Philippi who were also experiencing persecution. Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:4-8)
I don’t know about you, but I need this reminder in my life right now. One effective way to implement this is to meditate on that Philippians passage and let it cleanse and permeate our thoughts, conversations, and actions.
Also, we need to take inventory of what we are filling our minds with. What are we watching, listening to, and reading? What do our conversations center around when we’re with others? The old “garbage in, garbage out” adage fits here.
King David said it well, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14 NLT)