A World of Words
Ducks, On the Taunton River, Sullivan, Maine
Until an intrusion into their spaces, these beautiful but weary ducks were resting on the cold, winter waters of the Taunton River. Always on the alert for predators, their anxious appearing behavior is a protective fright/flight response, a feeling we understand because of both innate and learned abilities to sense physical or emotional threats. But how well are we primed to recognize insidious intellectual and spiritual threats?
We live in a world of words, of volumes of expressed thoughts, notions, opinions, and theories originating in the ruminations and ramblings of men and women with varying degrees of intellect, insight, motivation, and position; these philosophers and spiritual leaders are as imperfect in mind and are as flawed in character as we all are; some are inspiring; others are charlatans, scammers, and cultists. When Christ sent out his disciples, he encouraged them to beware of the power and deceitfulness of men and to be “ wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16-18)
That is good advice for creatures who seek meaning and purpose, who desire substantive ideas which help them explain and cope with existence and prepare for any afterlife. (Colossians 2:8) We value logic and reason. But not always! Our personal views may become deeply ingrained, but they may not have been well contemplated because we gravitate toward ideas which appeal to us intellectually or make emotional sense to us or reinforce our desires and lifestyles. So, we may fail to challenge concepts we have easily accepted or rejected. Discernment is crucial.
Our minds and spirits are vital organs which can be damaged as we pick our way through this mine field of mind influencers. Solomon said, “ Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Christ made the point that “ out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. Our convictions, states of mind, and behaviors flow “from the heart.” (Matthew 12:34-35) (Mark 7:20-23)
Scripture is replete with warning about how to guard hearts and minds. King Solomon spoke of the wisdom of God’s words: “… keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them…” (Proverbs 4:20-23) The Psalmist felt the same way: “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” (Psalm 119:160) The Apostle Paul emphasized “learning Christ.” He told the Ephesians to “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…”(Ephesians 4:20; 5:1-2) “… Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:21-24) While praying for his disciples, Jesus said: “ Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. (John 17:17 (NLT2) He finished his Sermon on the Mount with an ear catching statement: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock…And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” (Matthew 7:24,26)
What we allow into our minds and hearts shapes our character. When Jesus faced down the great Tempter and Deceiver, he knew truth and was empowered with moral courage: “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4) Inspired Scripture holds up the highest standard of moral thought and behavior. It is “useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.(2 Timothy 3:16) It instructs us how to know God, how to love Him, and how to love our neighbors. Filling our minds with Christ’s thoughts and claims protects our spirits because “they are life to those who find them.”
When we search and sift through our world of thoughts, it makes “no sense” to leave God out. He is where “life” is found.