Keep your heart with all vigilance,The other night after our kids were tucked in for the night, Mr. Edwards put a movie on for us to watch as we wound down from the day. It was a witty comedy that we loved when we saw it in the theaters nearly ten years ago. We hadn't seen it in quite a while. I settled in next to Mr. Edwards to watch, but soon I was wondering what I ever enjoyed about the film. A few scenes still made me laugh, but the profane sarcasm of the wit was nauseating. I didn't remember it being that way.
for from it flow the springs of life.
Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.
Parenting has left us little time for keeping up with whatever Hollywood serves up, but before we had kids we were regular movie viewers. I faithfully read the Friday movie reviews and it wasn't unusual for us to go to the theaters nearly every weekend. We never decided to quit watching movies or quit reading all the Hollywood reviews and news, but over time we've had little opportunity to do such things. We committed early on in our parenting to keep the television off when our kids are awake (except for occasional sporting events), so there isn't much time for media. (Funny that we instinctively knew our kids shouldn't see television, but assumed that we could watch and be unaffected.)
Here's the point: Although I didn't decide that movies were corrupting my thinking and I needed to stop filling my mind with so much media, that is exactly what happened. And along the way I discovered that while I believed I was immune to the corrupting influence of movies and television, I wasn't immune at all. It had influenced me and corrupted my thinking.
All of this has me remembering Thomas Chalmer's sermon "The Expulsive Power of a New Affection." It is very difficult to determine to cut sinful or corrupting desires out of our lives, as much as we must do so. Replacing those sinful desires with a desire for something better is far more effective. We can't just stop pursuing the world. We must start pursuing God. Chalmers wrote:
"You never will be able to arrest any of its leading pursuits by a naked demonstration of their vanity. It is quite in vain to think of stopping one of these pursuits in any way else but by stimulating to another...But what can not be thus destroyed, may be dispossest—and one taste may be made to give way to another, and to lose its power entirely as the reigning affection of the mind."
I've been thinking about contentedness this week and examining my heart. Am I content? Or am I craving things of the world? What is the most effective way to become content? Is it by determining to turn my back on the things I crave and practice self-denial? Or will a more lasting cure be found in directing my cravings after what deeply satisfies: Christ.
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (John 6:35-36)What will it take for me to crave the only sustenance that fills instead of the empty calories of the world? Jesus tells me I need to ask for this everyday. I need to remind myself everyday that He is the bread of life.
"But he answered, "It is written,Contentedness comes from God. We cannot attain it apart from Him. We cannot aim for it, or any other virtue. But we can daily feed on the Word and be filled with the Spirit and then discover that contentedness has settled upon us gently and completely.
"'Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
"Give us this day our daily bread."
(I've mentioned Chalmers before here.)