In the past few months, possibly even a year, I've become increasingly convicted about what I watch and listen to. There were certain shows I had become addicted to that were slightly crude, however I justified watching it because it was funny or the main actor seemed to be like a good person off the screen. Or secular music I listened to that I told myself was okay because it was catchy and the lyrics weren't that bad. But I found myself feeling more and more guilty. And the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.I had already decided to stay away from R-rated movies, which I think is a pretty common preference among Christians for obvious reasons. But I was feeling the need to purge the things I let enter into my mind even further. I find it really hard to promise myself that I'm going to stop watching a show or listening to a catchy song. So I realized that I had to promise God.
In case you were wondering, the show I am specifically referring to is "New Girl" with Zooey Deschanel. The show is hilarious. But there is a lot of sexual content as well as the use of profane language. This show was like my guilty pleasure, but the more I watched, the guiltier I felt.
And based on past experiences in my life, when I'm feeling guilty it's really the Lord working on my heart and convicting me in areas of my life that I need to change in order to glorify Him.
It was a sacrifice to give up that show. But the thought that finally convicted me enough to tell God that I was done with the show was that those ideas and words wouldn't be in my mind if I weren't letting them enter in. Have you ever found yourself repeating a curse word in your mind? Or thinking a thought that you wished had never entered your mind? That's where I found myself. (Side note: New Girl was not the only show I gave up, it was just my favorite, the one I watched the most, and consequently the hardest to give up.) I absolutely hate when words I would never say, or thoughts I hate thinking seem to be on repeat on my mind because I heard it somewhere else. And I realized I was doing it to myself. I was letting it happen.
I personally believe that having these thoughts and words circulating in my mind is just as bad as saying them out loud in God's eyes. The Bible says that if you murder someone in your heart, it's just as bad as murdering them in real life. And if a man is considered to have committed adultery just by looking at a woman and lusting after her, then I'd say thinking a word in my mind is just as bad as saying it out loud.
I have to close the avenues that the devil can use to enter into my life.
I found myself praying and asking God to purify my heart. But how can He do that if I am letting impure thoughts, images, and words enter into my mind? He can't. That part is up to me. So I took a leap of faith, knowing that God would bless me for making that sacrifice, and gave up all R-rated movies, crude or inappropriate shows, secular music, books, et cetera. I am trying to close the avenues, or the paths, that the devil uses to try to get into my life and distract me.
Here is a statement recently made in our Sunday School class at church that I thought was worth sharing:
You can't help it if a bird flies over your head, but you can stop it from building a nest in your hair.
At first I was like, "huh?" But then it was explained to me. When bad thoughts enter your mind, you can't help it unfortunately. Sometimes they just pop up, offending your own self that you would even have such a thought. But you do have the power to decide whether you are going to feed and nurture that thought, or if you're going to shoo it away. I think that allowing media of any kind that contains thoughts I wouldn't want to think of myself, is feeding and nurturing those thoughts. I'm inviting them to come build a home in my mind. And if I let those things make their home in my mind and heart, there's less room for God and His Son to have a place because they are being overcrowded. And competing with God is a very scary thing.Choosing not to watch or listen to certain shows, movies, or music is like telling those thoughts that this road is closed; they can't travel down this avenue.
I heard a statement several years ago that has stayed in the back of my mind ever since. It has sort of become my "WWJD" statement in my own life. In a youth class at our church in Louisville, KY, a man said that everything you do should have something to do with eternity. If it doesn't, it's not worth it. That statement alone has guided so many decisions in my life the past couple of years. One little sentence has convicted me on multiple occasions. I ask myself all of the time, does this benefit me? Does this glorify God? Does this please Jesus? Does this have anything to do with eternity?
There are so many things that I find myself getting caught up in, whether it's a TV show, a game on my phone, or browsing Facebook and Instagram for way too long, and then that thought enters my mind.What does this have to do with eternity? I rarely have to answer the question, because if I have to ask the question in the first place that's not a good sign. And once I do, if the answer is nothing to do with eternity, I have that sinking feeling of guilt which answers the question for me. And the sad thing is that sometimes I ignore that feeling and just give into whatever the guilty pleasure is. But when I don't give in, and I stop what I'm doing and open up my Bible, or begin to pray, or pop in a church DVD, or listen to a recording of a Bible study, I NEVER regret it!