My morning on-line devotional had a solid thought for the day. The devotional is called S O U N D B I T E S: Something to chew on that is good for the soul™. It comes daily and is from a Methodist minister, Rev. Dave Wilkinson, in memory of his son and today’s offering is by John Ortberg from the book The Me I Want To Be .
SETTING YOUR MIND
John Milton wrote in his epic poem Paradise Lost, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
Setting your mind is like setting a thermostat. It is creating a target for the climate. Once you set a thermostat, the heating and air-conditioning will have to adjust in relation to the weather. It is a constant process, but the goal is for the system to create a life-giving climate. So too it is with our minds. Many people try to tell themselves to stop thinking negative thoughts -- which immediately brings to mind the very thoughts they are supposed to stop thinking.
“Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2)
“Those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” (Romans 8:5)
Whether it is a religious piece or not, his words are very appropriate to human growth and development. There is a spiritual side to our nature and it is both good and bad. Unfortunately, we face a daily barrage of negative words, thoughts and images. It seems much easier to slip into the negative than to stand for the positive. A presidential election where the main issue is who can sling the most mud, where there is no respect for people or ideas; a world where issues between genders, between races, between religious faiths is settled with violence rather than common sense; where guns are more often than not the solution to problems; where entertainment is full of pornography and video games blow up characters so the players can score points; where blood flows freely on our televisions; where crude jokes and rude behavior are lifted up; where language is used to berate and attack and bully people into submission is a world over which we have lost control. It is a frightening picture that opens before us.
We shake our heads over the anger, even rage we see around us and yet we allow our children to live in a world where violence is accepted because ‘there is nothing we can do’. And worse we allow our children to set the stage because ‘everybody does it and I won’t have any friends if I don’t do it as well.’ Tolerance is not open acceptance of bad things. Tolerance is an attempt to raise the discussion to a higher level of understanding where violence is not where the discussion begins. The bottom line is that people are going to do what they do and believe what they believe, but at the very least we can remove ourselves from the baseness of some of what goes on. No one likes to hear crude language, no one. So why don’t we clean up our own language, police our own thoughts, what we see and read and the lifestyle we live.
Evil is a very real presence in the world. It takes some doing to get ourselves, our families, our communities in line, but the reward is a place where peace, patience, love, gentleness, and compassion hold sway.