So many books...so little time!
Yesterday afternoon I was reading through Mary Kassian's Girls Gone Wise In a World Gone Wild. Wow - there's some pretty stiff medicine here for the modern woman! Thankfully, it is served up with sweet grace and a dash of humor.
Mary devotes chapter two to the topic of counsel: where do we get "instruction" in this life - actively or passively - on how to live, how to love, how to understand who we are and what we were made for? I found this excerpt particularly convicting:
Speaking of media (movies, music, magazines, etc.), which certainly seek to inform us about who we are and why we are here, Mary writes, "Most of us recognize the danger of blatant evil, so we tend to set limits on the type and extent of sin to which we expose ourselves....we try to weigh the danger level. If it doesn't go beyond some arbitrary threshold of what we feel we are able to handle, we tolerate it, thinking it won't affect us. But evil is not benign. Author Josh Harris says we might as well ask how much of a poison pill we can swallow before it kills us."
She quotes Harris: "The greatest danger of the popular media is not a one-time exposure to a particular instance of sin (as serious as that can be). It's how long-term exposure to worldliness - little chunks of poison pill, day after day, week after week - can deaden our hearts to the ugliness of sin....The eventual effect of all those bits of poison pill is to deaden the conscience by trivializing the very things that God's Word calls the enemies of our souls.
"Does anyone really believe that if I disapprove of the sin I'm watching, or roll my eyes and mutter abut Hollywood's wickedness, or fast-forward through the really bad parts, my soul is not affected? Yeah, sure - and if you don't actually like chocolate cake, eating it won't add to your waistline."
Little bits of a poison pill. Just a forkful (and another and another!) of chocolate cake. Suddenly, we are surprised to find the whole pill swallowed, the cake plate empty. Suddenly, we find ourselves in a place we never intended to be, calmly watching and listening to and enjoying things that should make us recoil in disgust.
We are cautioned as children of God to guard our eyes, guard our ears, and guard our hearts - to make sure that what we are daily ingesting affirms the truth of Scripture and truly edifies our souls. That is so hard to do in this day, when bits of truly good food are very often laced with poisonous additives: Satan is a crafty enemy! We must pray for strength to be vigilant, and grace to be faithful. And when we do swallow the pretty pink pill, or eat another mouthful of that chocolate cake, we need to be honest about what we're doing (instead of lying that "It's no big deal") and realistic about the consequences (instead of lying that "It doesn't really matter").
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. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me - practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." - Philippians 4:8-9