spiritual maturity

This time of year is known for setting resolutions: exercise, eat healthier, get more sleep at night, etc. Resolutions are not bad. It is a good thing to be healthier and care for the body that God has given us. But resolutions and changed activities only go so far, especially if we continue to eat junk foods.

I love to eat junk foods: fast food burgers, cookies, chocolates, candies, potato chips, and I could go on. I’m sure you have your junk food weaknesses as well. We know that junk foods are not the best for our health. We are better off eating the things that God has made (fruit, vegetables, nuts) rather than foods processed with chemicals.

But we are unwise if we consider our physical health only when considering our habits. We need to change the habits of our junk feeds as much as junk foods.

The term junk feeds comes from a fascinating book entitled The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch. I would recommend this book for anyone (families in particular) as a resource for evaluating your technology intake.

We are not bored exactly, just as someone eating potato chips is not hungry, exactly. But overconsumption of distraction is just as unsatisfying, and ultimately sickening as over consumption of junk food.

Andy Crouch, The Tech-Wise Family

If you’re anything like me, minutes can zoom by scrolling through social media feeds, news articles, and websites. No doubt there are healthy reasons for having up to the minute access to the news and apps to connect us to one another. But these technologies must be put in their proper place. Scripture is ever-timely here.

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. 

The Apostle Paul, Philippians 4:8

When our addictions to the news or social media platforms or websites or binge-worthy shows or sports or whatever dominates our time and attention, we should evaluate these thoughts under the rubric of Philippians 4:8. Do these feeds and time consumers lead me to think about what is honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise? If not (and for much of what we scroll through, the very platform or medium is designed to be addictive and manipulative), then we must at least limit it in our lives if not cut it out altogether.

The only thing that should be all-consuming in our lives is God himself. If we are followers of Jesus, we need to remember that God rescued us from sin and slavery. The gospel teaches us about the transfer that took place. Christ took our sin and gave us his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because we’ve been rescued and forgiven, we have Christ, have new life, and have the privilege of abundant life (John 10:10). But too often we allow junk feeds to shape our thinking and turn our attention from God who loves us deeply. In truth, following Jesus means loving him with all that we are, maybe especially our minds.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (emphasis mine)

Jesus, Matthew 22:37

Does God consume our thinking? Followers of Jesus that are growing in Christ will engage in these healthy spiritual habits to develop our thinking under the truths of the gospel:

  • Read the Bible daily. There is really no substitute for reading the Bible everyday as a means of spiritual growth.
  • Study the Bible intentionally. Take time to learn what Scripture means.
  • Listen to Bible-believing preaching consistently. Make sure you are hearing from a Bible-believing preacher weekly.
  • Meditate on the Bible regularly. Memorize and meditate on Scriptures for your spiritual growth.
  • Pray through the Bible daily. As you read, let the Bible inform your prayer life.

The more you allow God’s Word and God’s truths to govern your thinking, the better you’ll be able to discern truth from error and grow toward spiritual maturity. Don’t be content with junk feed thinking. Rather, feed your mind with what will make you spiritually healthy.

Other resource suggestions:

  • For an insightful corrective regarding social media consider watching “The Social Dilemma,” a documentary currently on Netflix.
  • For an older book relating the concerns about shifting platforms of information, consider reading Amusing Ourselves to Death, by Neil Postman.
  • For a book detailing the concerns of how some of these elements are affecting negatively young adults, read iGen by Jean Twinge. This is especially pertinent for the parents of teenagers and college age students.

Photo by Rahul Chakraborty on Unsplash