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Garbage In, Garbage Out
© 03.13.2016 By D. Eric Williams

This article appeared in the March 17 edition of the Cottonwood Chronicle

When I was a kid my mom used to regale my siblings and I with a variety of anecdotal phrases designed to impart wisdom appropriate for the circumstance. For instance, when one of us reacted with disappointment about something that did not meet our expectation, mom would say, "it's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick." Or, when a member of her brood exhibited signs of an oncoming temper tantrum she would advise them to "go soak your head." If one of her children were reading something questionable or watching something we shouldn't on TV, mom would remind us, "garbage in, garbage out." Although you will not find this last axiom in Scripture it is biblically sound nonetheless.

The Old Testament tells us that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). Jesus echoed this truth when he declared a good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). These Scripture passages (and others) remind us of how important it is to fill our mind with godly things.

The apostle Paul alludes to the principle of "garbage in garbage out" when he says, 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 (Romans 12:2). There are two aspects to mind renewal, both Holy Spirit empowered yet requiring effort on our part. In the first place, we must avoid ungodliness wherever it might be found. A little leaven leavens the whole lump, Paul says (Galatians 5:9), and we are fooling ourselves if we think we can indulge the flesh without consequence. It is not just bad company that corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33, Proverbs 12:26), it is also those things we see or hear that affect our thoughts and behavior. My mother was right to concern herself with what her children read or watched on TV; there are consequences for indulging in ungodly "entertainment." If we indulge foul language, immoral behavior, blasphemy, violence and so on through various "entertainment media" we will affect how we think and act. I'm not suggesting you will turn into a potty mouthed philandering mass murder if you read the wrong books or watch the wrong movies. I am saying it will contribute to an overall spiritual sluggishness on your part.

One thing we discover as we read Paul's epistles is his practicality. He knew behavioral change required more than just quitting bad behavior; it is equally important to take the second step and replace the old way with something new. This is why Paul said be not conformed and then said be transformed. This is why he told thieves to stop stealing and start working and practice generosity (Ephesians 4:20). Therefore, Christians should stop the inflow of garbage and replace it with godliness. Yes, 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 (Philippians 4:8).

Fill up on the things of God so you might exude Christ likeness. Fill up on God's word and other godly things that you might think, speak and act in a way that is pleasing to our Lord.

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