Whether our experience of life is more active or less, the majority of it is lived between our ears, in our mind. Sometimes this experience is more like a solo ride on a metaphorical bandwagon. It’s such a tempting ride, though, isn’t it?
Here’s how the typical bandwagon rolls. One person who holds a grievance about someone or something makes a (usually false or biased) comment where others can hear (or read) it. Those others repeat what they heard, or these days share or retweet what they read, like that commercial of yore, “She told two friends, and they told two friends,” et cetera. A falsehood or misrepresentation is now considered a “fact” by many. The first person, the one driving the bandwagon, now has a lot of company. The wrong kind of company. All going in the wrong direction together. The thing is this: we also do this to ourselves with mind chatter.
Too often, we aren’t as present in our life as we think we are. Instead, we’re inside our mind, listening to our ego that is busy sniping about how it wants everything and everyone to be a certain way. Ego wants us to believe we’re engaging others and life through this mental activity, when what we’re engaging is mental gymnastics. If we engage in enough of it, like a drinking glass under a running faucet, what’s inside spills over, usually making a mess we need to clean up. Mind chatter takes up mental space, which means there’s little room for inspiration, creativity, and the voice of God to communicate with us and lead us to a more joyful, fulfilling experience of life.
When the apostle Paul wrote Philippians, which is all about being joyful in the Lord, despite circumstances, one of his hands was shackled as he was chained to a guard inside a Roman prison, not knowing whether he’d be released or executed (and a bit iffy as to which one he wanted more). Many of us will never have even a single day as much as a fraction like that one was for him. Yet, he was filled with joy and love. We get moody and grumpy about any number of things in a single day, with only mental chains holding us back.
In Philippians 4:8 (CJB), Paul reminded those he was writing to—and us—to focus our thoughts on what is “true, noble, righteous, pure, lovable or admirable, on some virtue or on something praiseworthy.” In other words, he wanted us to be aware of mind chatter and how it affects or influences us, others, and our experience of life—not to mention how it causes us to represent God’s Kingdom well or poorly.
One place to be aware of this mind-chatter matter, in particular, is on social sites or anywhere we can post a comment. How tempting it is to be clever and cleverly caustic with our comments. I don’t know about you, but Holy Spirit convicts me if I even think about doing that or sharing a snide or snarky meme. My imperfect nature still does this in my head (and sometimes in real life). I then repent and pray for whomever or whatever I, moments before, had been so ready to judge and criticize. I’m improving, but, yikes!
Here’s the nudge Holy Spirit gave to me about this: “Is the thought, word, or action kind? Will it lead someone to Jesus? Would you want it thought about, said about, or done to you?” I know—that isn’t new information at all. And yet, most of us still slip up when it comes to living it as best we could.
As you read this, the new year is 2020 on the Gregorian calendar, and is also the numerical reference we use for what we consider perfect vision or seeing clearly. The Jewish year is 5780, which is the year of the eye. As Jonathan Cahn demonstrates in his stunning books, and considering how both calendar systems were altered in some measure by humans, we can see that only God could have arranged for the year of the eye to align with the number of seeing clearly or with perfect vision. My point in mentioning this is that we need to monitor our mind chatter going forward and at all times. We need to avoid getting onto bandwagons festooned with banners of falsehoods—or causing others to do this.
My prayer for all of us in this new year—and always—is found in Philippians 1:9-11. May our love overflow with fullness of knowledge and deep discernment so we’re able to determine what truly is best and in a way that leaves us spotless and blameless before our Lord, and filled with the fruit that springs forth from righteousness, all from following the example of our Lord, and to the glory of our loving God.
To do this means we need to be deliberate about with what we fill our mind.
Prayer makes progress.