Many people are very aware of what they put into their bodies. We have diets of all kinds for all people. You can have a paleo diet, a Mediterranean diet, Atkins, or diabetic. In some cases, these diets are for health reasons, and sometimes they are about how we feel about ourselves.
Throughout the years, there have been many programs and much concern by the government about what we eat and how we eat it. Concerns about butter led to the production of margarine. Our crops can be genetically engineered for longevity or productivity. Throughout the years, there have been changes to how we look and think about nutrition.
Do we put as much concern and thought into what we put into our minds? Paul tells Timothy, “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). It is good to be healthy and to take care of these bodies that the Lord has given to us, but we also need to make sure that we are taking care of our minds and our spirits. We especially need to be training them in righteousness and godliness.
More than ever, we are surrounded by a never-ending stream of information, opinions, and propaganda. What we watch, listen to, and read will affect our minds and spirits. Some will make us better; others will make us worse. Sometimes they are obvious; many times, they are not. For example, Proverbs 9 depicts Folly as a woman. The words used to describe her are “loud,” “seductive,” and “know-nothing.” But she gladly calls out to all who pass by, trying to get them to turn in at her door. She seeks the simple and those who lack sense. And she is depicted as using very similar words and phrases as the lady Wisdom.
This is the path of much of our modern media. This includes many popular places where people consume their entertainment, like the television, books, radio, and various social media platforms. Even those that claim to be Christian can be problematic. Paul warned Timothy about those who departed from the faith having their conscience seared with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:2). The writer of the book of Hebrews chastised the people he was writing to because “though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God” (Hebrews 5:12). Not all Christians have a solid grasp of the basics, let alone the advanced concepts in God’s word. Not all who claim to be Christian are Christian.
This is why I tend to be very hesitant to recommend any kind of media to anyone, even though I keep a list for myself. I may agree with much of what people have to say, or I may appreciate their perspective, but I want to be careful not to cause anyone to stumble because of something I suggested they look at. I do not want to lead anyone astray!
We need to turn away from folly and instead turn to wisdom. Like Folly, Wisdom also cries out, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” (Proverbs 9:4). But she does not lead us down a path that leads to death. Instead, she reminds us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).
We must begin our spiritual diet with the Lord and learn who he is and what he has done for us. We must be like the man of Psalm 1 who has “his delight is in the law of the Lord and in His law he meditates day and night” (verse 2). If we start our diet here in the pure milk of scripture, then we can grow into one who can eat meat and know the mysteries of the Lord. The scriptures of the Lord also provide us with a tool to measure the many other types of media that are available. They let us test to see what is pure, noble, trustworthy, and in line with the word of God.
Like any diet, we may have to cut out the things that are not good for us. The junk food may be fine to eat occasionally, but we can’t eat too much, or we’ll have a stomach ache. Other things may be poisonous and should be avoided at all costs. Spiritually this may mean that some things are okay to indulge in sometimes but should not be our whole diet. Other things should be completely avoided because they will taint us and cause us to stumble. Remember how Jesus told his disciples that it would be better to lose a part of their body if it caused them to sin than to go to the place of darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. We need to make sure that we are cutting folly and foolishness out of our minds and our lives.
This is not going to be an easy process. Cutting off a part of who we are, even if it is bad for us, will never be easy. But we are at war. We see this idea when Paul reminds the Corinthian church that we are at war with the flesh. A part of that war is “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). The Lord expects us to control our minds and thoughts in accordance with his will. We are his people, and he is our God and savior! We need to make sure that what we do and what we participate in brings glory to the great I Am.
Our stomachs process food, and then the bad is filtered out and leaves our bodies. Not so our minds. Once something has entered our mind, it is there forever. We need to work hard now so that later our minds are already set in the right place. Remember that this is a weightier matter than what we eat! That is part of the point that Paul was trying to make to Timothy when he compared physical exercise to godliness.
Like an appropriate diet, becoming godly will require time, effort, and self-control. It will be done best with the help and the support of other like-minded people. It is only possible with the help of the Holy Spirit. It isn’t something that will happen overnight, but it is something that we need to get started as soon as possible.