I recently watched an episode of 60 Minutes which reported on the global problem of diminishing groundwater reserves and aquifers (it was a frightening report and I regret that I was ignorant of the danger). One aspect of the report included what is happening in the Los Angeles area to reduce some of that county’s water depletion; they are, in a rapid process, turning sewerage into potable water through the use of, among other things, filters. As part of her coverage of the story correspondent Lesley Stahl was required to test this process and drank from the tap a crystal clear cup of water. All I could think was, “Thank heavens that the filters did their job.”
It made me think about what would happen if the filters got old and worn. If there were places in the barrier between filth and refreshment that were no longer effective or efficient, the outflow would be troublesome. Someone could get hurt if dangerous materials aren’t filtered out. This, then, made me think about the filters I use: coffee filters that I make sure get changed with every pot (don’t want any grounds in my brew) and water pitcher filters that are routinely replaced (don’t want the water tasting funny). However, there is one more filter I worry about.
“But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” Colossians 3:8 (NIV)
This verse of scripture comes from the section upon with I spoke last Sunday. It is from a larger portion of Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae that tells of a new moral code given to God’s people through Christ. With all humility, I can say that I do an adequate job of getting rid of most of these things in the ways that I act. With all humility, my thought life is quite another thing, which brings me back to the concern over the condition of my filters.
I suppose I have two choices as I face the second half of life: trust that the filters that I have been using will continue to block harmful particulates from escaping my mind or seek ways to remove the harmful contaminants completely. Unfortunately, from what I have seen in the aging process, it appears that the filters wear out over time and, as age loosens my sense of tact and propriety, I am confident that I am in danger of beginning to speak my mind without reservation at some point in the next, say, twenty years. Suffice to say, I don’t want that to happen.
What I need is not a new or better filter for my mind, but a new source for my thoughts. I need to set my mind on things above, not on earthly things, as Colossians 3:2 exhorts. I have to put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator, as Colossians 3:10 commands. I need to no longer conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, as Romans 12:2 instructs. I don’t need to filter my old mind, I need it made new.
Maybe you are like me, too, and need to pray, “Lord, make my mind new, my thoughts heavenly and my words wholesome.” I don’t want a better system, I need a better stream…and I need it soon!