Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character.
1 Corinthians 15:33
Then be careful how you listen.
Back in the 80's, when computer programming was in its infancy and very slow and laborious (anyone reading this remember the days of Basic, Fortran, Cobalt, etc), there was this saying among those who programmed computers: Garbage in, Garbage out. It meant that if you input poor code (not in the right order or syntax) that the output of the computer was also poor (It would not be able to compute as desired). So, back then, if a computer was not performing, one would approach the problem by reviewing what was input in the first place.
I know what I am about to say is so basic and so fundamental that its almost embarrassing to say, but here goes:
Many people have dysfunctional lives and relationships, because they continually input dysfunction and degradation into their minds.
Unlike computers, there is no keyboard of our souls where data and processes are simply entered. No, our inputs come in several distinct sources:
1. Who you spend time with: We often are unaware that the actions, attitudes, and beliefs of the people who we spend the most time with define what is "normal". What is normal for us, shapes what we consider healthy. For instance, many men are very promiscuous. Spending significant time with those men would eventually desensitize me to the dangers of promiscuity and soon promiscuity is not only normal, but a badge of honor.
Taking this a step farther, you can not bathe yourself in a culture of pathology without subconsciously adopting many of the premises of that culture. Do not deceive yourself into thinking that If I hang out with people who have raging addictions that you will be exempt. It will be your new normal. This is why the Church, as a community is essential. We are wired to be influenced and formed by our communities.
2. What you listen to: Words have the power to frame and shape attitudes. I recently wrote on the language of violence. and how it is the first step in violence. Words have the power to give humanity or rob of humanity. Our words can give dignity or debase. It is simply ridiculous to think that you can hear words that shape and frame the identities of the world without assuming many of the presumptions.
For example, in the 2004 presidential election, President Bush used the phrase "Tax relief". The phrase is pregnant with assumptions. It assumes that that taxes are too high. It assumes that lowering taxes would be the just thing to do. Using the term assumes both of the things unless we consciously question it.
You can not listen to degrading words, lyrics, etc without it shaping your thought and understanding. You must be selective in what you give access to you mind.
Now this does not mean that we isolate and insulate ourselves against every negative person and negative word. That would be impossible. It does mean that if you desire to live a peaceful, productive, and positive life, that you must be intentional about inputting peace, purposeful, and positive principles. If the predominant community you affiliate is pathological, you will normalize harmful and negative behavior. You need an alternative community to demonstrate and model the attitudes and behaviors you desire.
If you are watching or listening to media that humiliates, degrades, and debases others, you will do the same unless you the counter the exposure with media that uplifts, honors, and blesses. This is why the reading of scripture is so vital. It is not just for information (what happened, etc) but because it is formational (building and shaping our souls).
Take time to evaluate your programming and your productivity. Remember garbage in, garbage out! The corollary is that beauty in, beauty out.
Guard you heart, for it is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23)
May God bless you today,
Pastor M Traylor