I am not big on New Year’s Resolutions. There have been many years that I have vowed to lose weight, exercise more, or get up earlier, and by the end of January, I have already failed at those resolutions. This year, however, I have one resolution that I feel that God has given me to work on. It’s simple, but profound. A few months ago, I was struck by a verse in I Thessalonians 5:20-21: “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” As I pondered this verse, I thought about what that meant in my everyday life. It means I should carefully think about everything that I do, and everything that I choose to bring into my home to see if it meets God’s standards. If it does, then I should hold on tightly. If it doesn’t, I should flee from that thing. So what is my simple but profound resolution? It can be summed up in one word: THINK.
I have lately been convicted that what ails us most as Christians and as Christian families is that we fail to think…we just aimlessly follow whatever the world throws at us and never pause to consider the impact those choices might have on our families or on others around us. The latest movie craze? We’re there, buying tickets with everyone else, no matter what the topic. After all, the effects are great, the stars are unbelievable and everybody else is watching, so why not? The hottest books? We’re pre-ordering with the best of them, anxiously awaiting a story to draw us in and help us to escape the real world for a few hours. The latest fashions? We let our daughters wear them without concern for how the boys are viewing them and treating them as a result. In fact, maybe we’re even wearing them ourselves, whether or not they are modest…after all, they make us look good, right? How about the latest video game? Okay, so it’s rated “T” or “M” for violence and gore, but it’s not real, right? It won’t hurt that little boy who is watching over your shoulder, will it?
I recently had someone ask me in deep anguish over a hurt inflicted by the choices of other Christians, “Are Christians just lemmings who don’t think things through?” This echoed in my brain and my heart over the next few days as I wrestled with her question. I desperately don’t want this to be true in my own life. I want to grab hold of that verse in I Thessalonians and be able to say that I used wisdom and discernment instead of blindly following the world over the cliff of destruction. Even more, I want to know that I made wise choices where my children are concerned, and that I didn’t lead THEM into a life of sin and bad choices. So my goal for this next year is this: I want to think carefully about what we choose to participate in, whether it is movies or books or video games, how we dress or how we talk or even how we treat other people. I don’t want to just “follow the crowd” but instead I want to follow my Lord. I want to listen carefully to his voice and choose the paths that will lead my children to purity and peace.
Over the last few years, God has slowly brought us to a place where we have realized that some of our choices needed to change. We no longer watch many movies that we would have watched a few years ago. We have cleaned books out of our bookshelves, realizing that they are inappropriate reading material for Christians and a bad example for our children. We guard our family time much more carefully and are very purposeful about spiritually training our children. We watch little to no television in our house and refuse to have cable because of the vast amount of ungodly and inappropriate matter offered up for viewing even to young children. We have tried to replace worldly movies and shows with more wholesome viewing matter, especially movies that have a message that we can discuss with our children. We have tried to discuss worldview a great deal with our children, so they are aware that everything they read or watch has a worldview and an influence on their thinking. We use the newspaper to help them recognize hidden agendas and worldviews that are opposed to a biblical worldview.
Have we arrived? Unfortunately, no…we have a long way to go. I’m certain God has only begun to make us aware of the things we need to change. But the more we ask for His wisdom and discernment, the more He provides and the more our eyes are opened. It isn’t easy, by any means, for our family’s choices have sometimes made us unpopular or misunderstood and have even been viewed as judgmental. It’s sometimes hard to give up books or movies that I previously loved, and to admit that maybe I was deceived. It’s difficult to look back and feel ashamed of choices that I made, knowing that they may have had an impact on my children, or on others around me. But when we humbly repent and ask God to change us, He does. And the fruit of an undivided heart is beautiful indeed.
I don’t write this blog to condemn anyone reading it or to point fingers at anyone and make them feel guilty. My only intent is to share what God has placed on my heart this year and to hope to inspire you to join with me in my new resolve: to THINK before I accept anything into my heart or my home. Is it something that is wholesome and good? Then let’s grab hold with both hands and never let go. Is it harmful, or even just questionable? Then let’s turn our backs and refuse to take part. Just imagine the impact we could have on our children, our homes and our world if we just took this seriously…it’s simple, but profound.
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Thessalonians 5:23
“To live as though we had all the same values as the world would betray [Jesus]” –John Piper
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