I stood staring at the board for way too long. Life experiences flashing before my eyes. This decision, like many decisions we make, would have significant impact on my future. We always want to make the right choice. I mean, I don’t know many people who willingly intend to make choices to harm themselves, but in the heat of the moment sometimes the pressure is on and it’s difficult. It’s not so easy to make the decision that doesn’t provide quick gratification even if I know it’s what is best for me.
So I kept looking, thinking, calculating… salad or burger?
It’s the battle we all face, do we choose gratification for the moment or something that provides more long term satisfaction. We all know that everything we consume has an affect on our natural bodies, so whether we make healthy choices or we make ones that make us feel better for a moment, we’re not ignorant that what we put in has an effect long after that burger or pizza is gone.
I wonder if we realize that this concept isn’t true just in the area of food and physical fitness? What you consume, what you feast on, what you allow in, will undoubtedly have an impact on your soul, your mental health, and your walk with the Lord. I’m amazed by the statement made by King David in the Psalms,
“I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.” (Psalm 101:3)
A few years ago a movie came out called, Fifty Shades of Grey. When it came out I was shocked at the amount of Christians that chose to be entertained by what even secular media was calling a form of pornography. I wrote a response because I was grieved that so many in my generation were being deceived into believing that they could watch (consume) whatever they chose and it have no consequence on their lives. Lately I’ve been once again reminded that this generation all too easily falls into the trap of being entertained by the very things that put Jesus on a cross.
I could spend pages writing about how our love for Jesus should have daily influence on our choices. The brilliant Holy Spirit with His sweet whispers and conviction is always there nudging us in the direction that most glories the One we say we love and yet all too often we make little compromises that gratify our flesh. I could write about how I believe we actually have a love problem, not a sin problem. That the more you fall in love with Jesus, the less likely you are to choose the counterfeits of this world for acceptance, intimacy, significance, pleasure, entertainment, abundance, and more. I could go on and on ultimately pleading with our generation saying, “ISN’T JESUS ENOUGH?” Isn’t what He did for us enough to say that we will obey you, we will choose holiness, we will make the sometimes difficult, but all together wise choice of living out Philippians 4:8,
“Finally brothers 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”
But unfortunately, I’ve found that for some, love has yet to become such a significant influencer. Perhaps if we refuse to do it for love of Him, might we do it for love of ourselves?
Friends, what you choose to partake in ALWAYS effects you whether you immediately feel the affects or not. Just like that cheesburger, what you consume, what you watch, what you listen to, what you choose to feast on, whether positive or negative, will eventually reap fruit in your life. We have way too many people who wouldn’t dare put high fructose corn syrup in their bodies, but have no problem watching movies that wreck havoc on their mindsets.
More often than not I find we choose to be entertained by things because of a lack we feel, rather than the growth we want to see.
We come home from work or school, we’re tired, and we just want to put something on the tv that compensates for what we feel is missing.
Do you feel lonely? You might find yourself watching some trashy romantic movie that allows you to feast on some distorted view of intimacy. Maybe you watch just a little bit of pornography, always thinking that this will be the last time.
Do you feel overlooked? Maybe you turn on some show that takes you through the million dollar homes where you wonder what you’ve done wrong for you to still be living in your one bedroom house.
Do you feel bored? Maybe you go straight to some action movie that allows you to feast on the thrills of someone else’s life because you’ve been too afraid to step out into any adventure of your own.
Do you feel angry? So you turn on the gangster rap where someone is using his freedom of speech to verbally vomit on everyone that’s ever done them wrong in life.
Do you feel disconnected? So you go to social media and spend hours scrolling, liking, commenting, to try and prove to yourself that you have community.
You see something doesn’t have to be rated R for it to not be the right choice for you. It doesn’t have to blast the f word multiple times or even have vivid sex scenes. If you’re turning to entertainment, social media, or any other external quick gratification to pacify the lack in your life, I guarantee you, you’re going to the wrong source to sustain you. Though you may feel better for a moment, the source of your discontentment is not only still there, it’s growing. Paul said, all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. You are allowed these choices, but ultimately they’ll never produce the results you’re longing for.
You see I’m not here to give you a black and white guideline of when things that I believe are allowed and not allowed. I’m not interested in a rule book that gives you the ability to do or not do just enough to relieve our guilt, but will never bring us into mature growth in the Kingdom. Rather I want us to learn as the body of Christ to steward what has been given to us, so that we can grow into mature believers that are prospering in mind, body, and Spirit.
That means that instead of consuming based off of a lack, I purposely consume with growth in mind. I am currently training for a half marathon, so I choose foods that I know will help fuel my run. I pattern my life in a way that gives me availability to run, lift, and even recover. Because this half marathon is a priority, I prioritize decisions that benefit my race. Powerful and healthy people don't make choices out of compensation, they make them with purpose and goals in mind.
For me that means I never check social media or even the news until I've had time with Jesus in the morning. At night it often means I pick up a book or watch a documentary where I'm learning, growing, or challenging myself. When I watch tv to shut off my mind and unwind (which I definitely do!) I make sure not to choose something out of a reaction to what I might be feeling. I want to be making powerful productive choices for my life, rather than letting my wounds or insecurities dictate me.
Directly put when we feast on things that fuel our dysfunction, they may pacify for a moment, but ultimately they breed more lack, more pain, more wrong thinking, and less of the very things we’re craving.I have a few tests I use before I make decisions about what I’m going to watch and listen to.
-What am I feeling emotionally and am I trying to relieve that from an unhealthy source?
-What is my motivation?
-Would I still watch or listen to this if ole’ JC were sitting right here with me?
-If I saw the fruit of this choice immediately, would I still make it?
Guys, there’s no harm in sitting down and watching a movie, a television show, or even browsing social media. It’s when these avenues become the way we try to meet our needs that we have a problem. It’s when we find ourselves constantly trying to self soothe through these outlets. It’s when we’ve lowered our standards and decided that what we consume doesn’t matter and doesn’t affect us that we begin walking a dangerous line.
In my heart I want us to be a generation that walks in power and holiness. I want us to be a generation that walks in wholeness, having a healthy mind, body, and spirit. I want our love for Jesus to launch us into greater adventures than we ever thought possible of seeing His Kingdom Advancing across the globe. I don't want us to make excuses, I want us to powerfully take back areas of our lives that we've compromised. I have so much hope for your future.