In his excellent book, Just Like Jesus, Max Lucado relates an interesting story in Chapter #9 – The Greenhouse of the Mind – whereby he pokes fun at himself by suggesting that he (Max) plant nothing but undesirable seeds, like crab grass and burr seeds in his ideal garden. Sounds preposterous, right? I mean who on earth would plant seeds that will ruin your garden?
But that is exactly what many of us do, figuratively, by inviting (planting) all sorts of unproductive and ill-advised thoughts in our minds (hearts). Our hearts are vulnerable and we need to be careful what we allow to enter.
In today’s day and age, people are concerned with all sorts of things: the economy, political stability, even climate change. All of these are valid and need our attention. The younger generation, well aware that time is valuable, has come up with strategies that deal with time management. That has progressed to include other areas, such as health, entertainment, even wealth. Clever designers have come up with apps that will track every aspect of our lives, to make things simpler and easier to manage.
It’s so easy to access the latest news programs, podcasts or streaming service such as Crave, HBO and Netflix, to name just a few. With outside temperatures plummeting, it’s inviting to grab some munchies, curl up on the couch, and tune in to the latest program that everyone has been talking about. Sounds good, doesn’t it? However, it leads me to consider one important element that seems to have been left out: thought management.
Our minds are fearfully and wonderfully made. We’re bombarded with all kinds of messages from all sorts of sources. But this is where it’s prudent to pause and check on what we’re inviting in. In other words, what sorts of themes and ideologies will our minds be subjected to? With the advent of streaming services, it’s easy to get wrapped up with the latest, hottest programs. I’m thinking of one series in particular: Game of Thrones.
From what I’ve heard and seen via brief segments and reviews on Utube, all the hype seems to bear out that it’s a great series, exciting and worth watching. Reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings saga, it has a certain mythical appeal, yet upon closer examination it’s filled with graphic violence, coarse language, nudity, and ‘mature’ themes. So, even though the drama depicted is captivating and exciting, we need to question what impact all those messages will eventually have on young, influential minds. One of the dangers is to become overwhelmed and desensitized by the sheer volume of negative influence so that our minds accept all, without giving it a second thought.
Still, other thoughts are more subtle and come disguised in a variety of cloaks.
Gossip: the need to share a burden can easily transform itself into something that was never intended to be shared in a larger context.
Pride: being proud of a friend or family member’s achievements is in itself good and welcome, showing that we care about them. But speaking, even boasting of our own accomplishments is a little trickier and can easily stroke our ego.
Envy: everyone has been blessed with one or more talents, equipping each one to accomplish much for God’s kingdom. But comparing yourself to others is dangerous, something that God had not intended, nor does he encourage it. Comparison leads to dissatisfaction with what we have and heads down the path toward envy.
I think it comes down to remaining humble in your work and leisure activities, not taking yourself too seriously, and above all, always ready to give God praise and glory for his blessings. After all, He is the one who has given us health, the talents and abilities to accomplish so much.
So, let’s sow good seeds, and encourage those around us to do likewise.