Why is it so important to filter what we consume?
Because the things we consume shape us.
What we read, watch, and listen to—whether movies, social media, or articles online— influences us. It may be as simple as being depressed after watching a certain movie or feeling anxious after reading a book. The effects of what we consume can be drastic, but more likely they are subtle—so subtle we don’t even realize what’s happening.
As Christians, we need to be aware of how the things we consume influence us. Here are four of them.
1. It Influences Our Thoughts
Philippians 4:8, ESV, states, “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.”
As humans, we don’t naturally analyze, discern, or think about what we consume. But as Christians, we should. If what we’re consuming doesn’t align with the list of attributes in Philippians 4:8, our thoughts will be negatively impacted.
When you notice destructive thought patterns and feelings of depression or anxiety, think about what you’ve been consuming. Maybe it’s a certain series of books. Maybe it’s a movie. Maybe it’s a social media platform. Keep track of when those negative thoughts come and try to filter what you consume to keep your thoughts on par with Philippians 4:8. If one thing is a consistent trigger for you, try and stay away from that thing altogether.
What triggers you, however, may not trigger someone else. It can differ from person to person. Something that may be acceptable for you might not be acceptable to your friend and vice versa.
The important thing is not to compare what you consume to what somebody else does, but instead to compare it to God’s Word. As you do that, you will find a change in your life for the better!
2. It Influences Our Worldview
Worldview is a buzzword in today’s society. It’s like a lens. Think of putting on a pair of sunglasses—it influences everything you see. What you consume influences your worldview.
2 Timothy 3:16, ESV, tells us that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”
From this verse we know that the Bible is perfect. Our culture, however, is not perfect, and therefore we have to test everything in it against the Word of God. When we consume things, we should always compare them to the truth of Scripture. Is it wholesome, good content? Or is it dishonoring to God? Let’s make sure that our worldview is constantly being refined to fit the Bible and not the culture.
Here’s a prime example of how what we read shapes us. The Bible, the most powerful book in the world, has shaped my worldview and I’m sure many of yours. Without the Bible, where would we be? This shows that not everything we consume shapes us negatively—it can also change our lives for the good!
Our worldview will be pushed around by our culture if we let it, but we can stand strong in the Word of God.
3. It Influences the Fruit We Bear
Galatians 5:22, ESV, tells us “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
If the fruit we produce in our lives is influenced by the culture around us and its crooked values, that fruit isn’t going to be what’s listed in Galatians 5:22. Verses 19-21 lists the works of the flesh, such as jealousy, strife, fits of anger, and dissensions. These are extremely common in our culture today and are things that we all struggle with!
But if we tune the filter of what we consume to fit the standard of the Bible, the fruits in our lives are going to be more Christ-like. We want our lives to bear good fruit that points others to Christ, and this is one of the reasons we need to be careful about what we consume.
4. It Influences Our Friends
It may not seem like the things we consume influences others, but they do. If you’re like me, you might often suggest a book or movie you enjoyed to a friend.
Romans 14:13, ESV, tells us “Therefore, let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”
If we suggest a book to a friend that is full of evil and negative content, we have put a “stumbling block or hindrance” in their way.
Now this doesn’t mean we should avoid every book or movie that portrays sinful actions like stealing and lying. But we should always think about how that sin is portrayed—as right or wrong—and the overall message conveyed.
As Christians, we should build up and encourage our friends through what we share with them, recommending that which will edify and inspire them. Share the Bible with one of your friends who doesn’t know Christ! Like I said before, this is one way the things we consume can be used for good!
Seek His Wisdom, Obey His Voice
The next time you watch a movie or read a book, think about if it’s something you should be consuming. If you’re not sure, pray about it and ask the LORD for wisdom and discernment. As you seek His guidance in this area and obey His Spirit, you may notice a difference in your thoughts, your worldview, the fruit you bear, and the effect you have on your friends for the better!