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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Living in Captivity

In March I got a couple weeks off work to go on a nice vacation with my parents. We meandered from Arizona to Florida, visiting relatives and friends here and there that I'd ordinarily never get to see. In Louisiana we stopped for a few days to visit my aging grandmother. She's in her 90's now and understandably not the spry thing she was at 89. Like so many, her memory tended to be spotty at times. Oh, she knew who we were and all, but she might forget an answer you just gave her or an event she explained happened to her last week and then didn't know at all or the like. The one thing I noticed most, however, was that her filters were off.

You know about filters. We all have them. We filter what comes from our brains to our mouths. It's quite normal. There are things that are appropriate to tell your spouse that you shouldn't tell your friends. There are things that you can say in the company of these people but not those people. There are things that you can say when you're all alone and there are likely things in your head that should never be spoken out loud. Filters. We all have them. Hopefully, before the thought in our head makes it to our lips, we've evaluated whether or not it was appropriate for the moment and blocked or allowed it as we deem suitable.

Well, my grandmother had a bit of a problem with her filters. She would say things that you know she had heard from other people and shouldn't have repeated. She said things that were just there in the forefront of her mind and probably shouldn't have been spoken at all. Her filters appeared to be completely offline.

It made me think about my filters. Paul told the Ephesians, "Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving" (Eph 5:4). Instead we should be "addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph 5:19-20). David wrote, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer" (Psa 19:14).

Notice that both Paul and David addressed the subject of what comes out of your mouth. "Let the words of my mouth ... be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD." But David went further. "Let ... the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD." Of course, Paul was also concerned about our thought life. "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Phil 4:8). In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul writes about the war being waged. "The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds" he writes in verse 4. What strongholds does he have in mind? "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Cor 10:5). Those are the strongholds. They are arguments, opinions, and thoughts. The need, according to Paul, was to "take every thought captive to obey Christ".

I got to thinking about my filters. Frankly, the idea that I would simply say what was on my mind all the time was frightening. There are indeed things that shouldn't be said. It's easy to think, "Yes, but I'm not saying them so it's okay." And for the moment that's certainly much better than saying them. But Scripture has still a better way. Take every thought captive. If there are things worthy of praise, excellent things, commendable things, things worth thinking about, let your mind dwell there. We are to have renewed minds, not filtered speech. Wouldn't it be grand to be able to be confident that whatever might come out of your mouth would be pleasant? How about this radical idea -- what if your thoughts were so captivated by Christ that the only thing that would come out of your mouth would be "good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear" (Eph 4:29)? Now there's a crazy thought, eh? Well, obviously I'm not there yet, but I have a direction to go now.


Dan said...

OK, off with it. What did she say? Inquiring minds want to know.

Stan said...

Oh, that is so not going to happen.