By David Brandt Berg
Somebody once said, “You are what you read.” It’s like the saying about health, “You are what you eat,” physically. Well, you are what you read, mentally and spiritually. And the same is true of movies, TV, music, and other forms of input, like the Internet and computer games. Tell me what kind of input someone enjoys most, and I can usually tell what that person’s spiritual condition is like.
God created people with a spiritual hunger for truth—insights and ideas that will feed their souls, bring them closer to Him by helping them better understand Him and His loving ways, and inspire them to live better lives. But sad to say, a lot of people today have developed perverted spiritual appetites through reading and viewing the wrong kinds of things, similar to what happens when people develop an appetite for junk food and sweets, and lose their appetite for good wholesome food.
It reminds me of the following verses from the Bible: “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance,” (Isaiah 55:2) and, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life” (John 6:27).
The portrayal of attitudes and actions that are contrary to the way God wants us to think and act really does have an effect on people, whether they like to admit that or not. Filling their minds and hearts with lies and half-truths will eat away at their spirits, even if they are only reading or viewing for relaxation or entertainment. Multiply that effect a few million times, and it has the same bad effect on society. The world today is proof of that!
Discern and discriminate
Everything that you take into your mind affects your spirit. Movies, music, books, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, and the Internet are all mediums for conveying a message, and that message is either inspired by God and in line with His Word, or it’s not.
Much of what’s out there today is what the Bible calls “cunningly devised fables” (2 Peter 1:16)—cunningly inspired not by God, but by the dark side to deceive people, lead them astray, and numb them spiritually to where they no longer know what is true or right.
Reading the wrong kind of books or watching the wrong kind of movies does not make people wise. It leaves them dumber and more confused and further from the truth than ever. The wisdom of this world is absolute foolishness to God. (1 Corinthians 3:19).
People eat junk food because it looks like food and is tasty, but enough of it will eventually kill them. That’s why it’s so dangerous—because it’s so deceptive. And the same is true of junk reading and viewing.
The Devil is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). And let me tell you, his lies are very clever! Part of what he says is always true, because he couldn’t get people to believe his lies unless he told some truth along with them. He mixes in little truths, like he did with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. When he tempted them to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he told them, “You will be like God” (Genesis 3:5). What a tempting truth that was—and they swallowed it! (Genesis 3:6).
How about you?
It is not wrong to sometimes read or watch for relaxation, but if you aren’t choosy about what input you receive, if you don’t guard yourself against ungodly input, it will be more draining to your spirit than beneficial. “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Even books and movies and other things that are mostly good can influence you adversely if you don’t make a conscious effort to focus on the positive and reject the negative, either during or after your reading or viewing. The Bible says to “eschew [abstain from] evil, and do good” (1 Peter 3:11, KJV)—a verse that applies not only to what we do, but also what we take in, since that will ultimately affect our actions.
You also need to make sure you’re getting filled up with the truth of God’s Word to counteract any bad influences that whatever else you’ve been reading or watching may have on you. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
There is a saying about prayer: “You believe in prayer as much as you pray.” I would say the same about God’s Word and worldly input: You believe the Word as much as you read it, or you believe in that other stuff as much as you take it in. I hope that you are getting good spiritual food, because your spiritual health and happiness depend on it. You are what you take in!