July 13, 2014
The Power of Choice
2 Corinthians 13:14: For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.
Today, I am considering the power of choice, how we choose to do what we do each day. In any given day, we make hundreds of choices, from the simple to the complex. Often, we make choices out of habit or routine, but sometimes we make choices without even thinking about the consequences of what we are doing. Our words, our thoughts, our actions -- are all areas where we need to harness God's power to ensure that we are living rightly and within alignment with the Word of God.
I think that most Christians do consider their actions and words, and most attempt to modify their behavior according to their understanding of the Word. Our thoughts, in my opinion, are more difficult to modify. So many of our thought processes are hard coded into our brains. Not that these hard coded patterns cannot be changed, it is just that the way they are wired into us requires significant effort to change them. Many of these thought processes were formed in our early childhood. Our early experiences, both positive and negative, form the foundation for a lot of what we think and what we do as adults. Parents have a great responsibility in how their children are raised -- not just to teach them obedience -- but to instill positive affirmations, Godly wisdom, the Word, and other good habits that will serve to build up the child and see them through to adulthood.
When my son was home schooled, we followed a curriculum that was designed using Charlotte Mason's teaching philosophy. Mason was a 19th century British Educationalist and Philosopher who wrote extensively on child-rearing, mothering, and home education. Her works have been published now, and there are a number of home school programs that use her teaching philosophy. One of her primary themes was the importance of teaching young children good habits. She believed that the best time to instill discipline (not as in punishment, but as in a disciplined life) was during early childhood. Children, according to Mason, were mold-able and adaptable during the toddler to early elementary years. As such, she encouraged Mothers to set boundaries in love. Her ideas started in the home, but they carried over to the schoolroom. Some might consider her approach old-fashioned, but her observations as a Governess and later teacher are relevant still today.
Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life. ~ Charlotte Mason
The short of it was that whatever you put into your head will eventually come out your mouth, your heart, and your life. Therefore, adults and children alike were encouraged to be considerate of what was allowed into the mind.
Mason was a Christian, and as such, she strongly advocated feeding the child's mind with good books including the Bible. She believed that the mind was not something to waste. She understood that God had given His creation the mental capacity for thinking and for choosing what to think about each day. Her belief was that if the mind was fed with good food, then the mind would naturally ponder the complexities of that food. She often likened the process of choosing educational materials to that of a buffet. She asked her readers to consider the enjoyment of eating a good meal -- savoring the flavors, the textures, etc. -- to that of enjoying the learning process. Her point was this: you do not gulp down a gourmet meal, but rather, you sit with it, and you enjoy it. Thus, your approach to study, to learning, to feeding your mind with good mental food should follow suit.
Food for our mind comes in so many forms. We feed our mind daily with thoughts from so many sources. Our brains are scanning informational sources -- mostly visual and mostly digitized. We take in information without really considering it. Visual stimulation, auditory stimulation -- all contribute to our encyclopedia of knowledge. We collect vast amounts of information, much of which we do not even know we are collecting. Our responsibility as Christians is to filter the incoming information to ensure that we are only allowing in data that is profitable to us.
As I consider the type of information I allow into my mind, I know for certain, that much of what comes in is not vital to my well-being. In addition to reading good books (for school) and the Bible, I let in a lot of other information that comes through TV, Internet, and digital sources. I do not scrutinize the flow, and I do not always check it at the door (to quote Kay Arthur). A lot of the time, I allow it to simply come through without any filtering at all.
"The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.
I believe that since we have the power to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, etc. (thanks to Adam), we must be cautious about the information we allow inside our minds. We can choose to say no. We can choose to say yes. We can choose to change our minds at any time. We have the power to choose, to make choices in wisdom because of our position in Christ. Therefore, may we this day choose wisely, and act judiciously to monitor what we allow into the purchased mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16).