As a child in Sunday School, I remember singing the lyrics, “Be careful little eyes what you see. Be careful little ears what you hear.” These musical instructions were meant to serve as a warning to guard my heart from the evil influences of the world. Tommy Newberry, on Day 22 of 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life, delves further into this admonishment and encourages us to consider the direction our lives have taken as a result of what our little eyes and ears have seen and heard.
Newberry states, “The soundest way to improve the quality of your life is to first improve the quality of your thinking. And the best way to improve the quality of your thinking is to keep a vigilant watch over your heart.” According to the author, guarding your heart means shielding it from “environmental hazards” that capture your attention and steer you away from Philippians 4:8 thoughts of what is true, pure, lovely, and excellent.
In the days of COVID-19, this is even more urgent. Filling up on secular media accounts of the pandemic makes believing God for His power and protection even more difficult. There is a 24/7 barrage of information about new cases, death counts, and other negative accounts. It’s almost impossible to avoid. How can we counter these messages?
First, limit your exposure as much as possible. Choose your Netflix adventures carefully and tune your radio to uplifting music. Put together your own playlist of upbeat songs. Be sure to include some tunes that tell of the goodness of God and praise Him for His saving power. Try not to google anything about the virus or the pandemic. Reading the symptoms of COVID-19 repeatedly will only make you suspicious of every ache and pain. If you have been following the guidelines set out by the CDC for handwashing, staying at home and social distancing when you must go out for essential services, chances are it’s only your over-active imagination or a panic attack that makes you seem out of breath. (Hey, it happened to me!).
In an attempt to guard my heart and fill it up with 4:8 thoughts, I was listening to a Joyce Meyer’s broadcast today and she used a scripture that illustrates how we can counteract the fears this news overload can create. I am including it here in the Amplified Version, Ephesians 6:13-17.
“13 Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious]. 14 So stand firm and hold your ground, having tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), 15 and having strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news]. 16 Above all, lift up the [protective] shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”
In order to use the Word of God as a defensive and offensive weapon, we must know something about it. The Apostle Peter tells us that grace and peace are increased through the knowledge of God and of Jesus (2 Peter 1:2). Many of us have used a lack of time as a reason not to pursue that knowledge. Maybe some of our home-bound time could be put to that pursuit now? Personally, I need more grace and certainly more peace!
There are times in your life when it’s easy to drift. To listen to and watch whatever the culture around you is into. It’s never a good idea if you want to live a joyful, exceptional life. Newberry states in his 2012 book that it is critical that we protect our minds. How much more so now?
His exercise for this day is to list at least three joy-decreasing inputs in which you indulge and three joy-producing inputs that you now ingest or could consume going forward. Choose one positive change you are willing to make.
What will you do to make a positive impact on your thinking?