Each of us is the sum of the places we’ve been, the books we’ve read, the media we’ve watched, the music we listen to, and the people with whom we surround ourselves. We have a responsibility to monitor what is going into our minds because it has a profound impact on the health of our hearts. Jesus called us to follow Him, but we spend most of our time pursuing anyone and anything other than Christ.
It doesn’t square with our claim that He is our Lord. So much of who we become is not directed by Jesus at all. In fact, His influence seems to be so much less than everything else that is shaping us. What influences you?
The Places You’ve Been
God is everywhere. No matter where you go, He is there. If you’ve ever visited places of abject poverty, you know what it is to have a broken heart. If you’ve been to countries where religious freedom is restricted, you understand how blessed you are to have been born where you were. Even if you’ve lived on the same street all your life, your environment will shape who you are.
The Books You Read
Books, either written or audio, have a unique way of getting into your head. A good writer makes you feel you are part of the story. You will feel the emotions of the characters in a good fiction book, or the indignation of a new perspective when reading a piece of nonfiction. Books can lift you up or bring you down, they can instruct and encourage, or deceive.
The Media You Watch
Television, movies, YouTube, and all forms of streaming videos permeate our consciousness. Images, both static and moving, bombard us at a relentless pace throughout our day. We all instinctively know those things we should not be viewing. But there are many more subtle and insidious images and videos that will mislead and distract you.
The Music You Listen To
I’m both a musician and a music lover. It is a rare moment in my house when music is not playing. It is part of the fabric of many of our lives. Words are constantly drifting into our minds in the background, such that we memorize and ingest lyrics without even thinking about it.
The People Who Surround You
Perhaps nothing has a bigger impact on shaping our lives than those with whom we choose to associate. They inform our morals, our politics, our finances, and our careers. We want people to like and accept us, so we often behave in a manner we deem most acceptable by our friends and family.
What influences you?
If we aren’t intentional about serving God, all these other influences in our lives will shape who we become. Each of the above can draw us closer to Jesus and be things that honor Him, but only if we intentionally choose what we will allow into our minds and lives. So, what influences you? Have you given it any thought? If what’s influencing you is not the Word of God and the Spirit of His Son, it’s time to reevaluate what we are consuming. We will become what we allow into our minds. Be sure what influences you is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, morally excellent, and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8).