As discussed in previous Boot Camp sessions, staying encouraged is a matter of keeping a divine perspective, having an attitude of gratitude, and focusing on the good and not the bad: the solution and not the problem; the storm-stopper (God) and not the storm. We especially don’t want to focus on anything that will lead us to “stinking thinking.” This includes “eye pollution.”
In today’s world we are constantly bombarded with unsettling and unwholesome imagery. More and more, movies and television shows tend to focus on gory violence and carnality: what we like to call “severed heads and unmade beds.” Even at the grocery checkout we’re assaulted by the unsavory covers of the tabloids, boasting outrageous headlines and highlighting the latest gossip, rumors, and scandals.
This eye pollution actually appeals to the baser side of human nature, which is why carnival sideshows featuring snake-charmers and bearded ladies were once popular attractions. But such things are not uplifting, edifying, or encouraging. In fact, these lurid and debased offerings can easily lead people into the realm of stinking thinking. Besides, this stuff fails the “Philippians 4:18 Test” — big time! (See Boot Camp 20.4)
On the other hand, focusing on positive, uplifting, and wholesome fare helps to raise our spirits and keep us encouraged.
You’ve probably realized by now that we love movies! We can’t count the number of times the Lord has used these modern-day parables to encourage and motivate us. And we’re not just talking about faith-based films, either. We’ve already mentioned Rocky, Chariots of Fire, and The Sound of Music; but we also enjoy all the superhero movies in which the heroes overcome overwhelming odds, defeat the bad guys, and save the day.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is another favorite: it’s a wonderful allegory of spiritual warfare, in which good triumphs over evil. And how about all those old WWII movies? The Allied forces prevail, John Wayne gets to swagger, and Hitler and the Nazis get their just desserts. And lest we forget, the numerous inspiring movies and documentaries focusing on the struggle and miraculous survival of the Jewish people, and the glorious rebirth of the nation of Israel.
Yes, movies comprise a powerful medium that can lift us up and inspire us to reach higher and never give up. Something we all need, but especially important to dreamers and creators. This power comes in part from the strong impression and sheer impact such vivid imagery can make. Which leads us to another truth: the eyes are the windows to the soul.
This oft-spoken truth is a paraphrasing of the Words of Christ: “The eye is the lamp of the body. You draw light into your body through your eyes, and light shines out to the world through your eyes. So if your eye is well and shows you what is true, then your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eye is clouded or evil, then your body will be filled with evil and dark clouds.” (Matthew 6:22-24 VOICE) What the Lord is communicating here is that what we take in — through our eyes — affects our thoughts, attitudes, and wellbeing. In essence, we are what we constantly view; or, garbage in, garbage out!
The long-suffering Job also has some good eye-advice. Job is the poster child for adversity, and yet, the Lord signified him as a righteous man. Although Job lost everything, he kept his faith and trust in God, even though he didn’t understand the “why” of his trials. For those unfamiliar with Job’s adventures, we’ll share the end of his story. It’s really quite simple: God restored everything Job had lost — and more. (Job 42:10,12)
Job said: “I have made a covenant (agreement) with my eyes….” (Job 31:1 AMP) In other words, he made a commitment to God and to himself, that he would not view worthless and unwholesome things. It was a decision that served Job well.
We’re certainly grateful for Christian television and programming designed to inspire and educate us. But there are many other shows which ultimately point us to God, including a host of animal and nature programs. Like Isaiah said, “The whole earth is filled with his glory.” (Isaiah 6:3 GW)
So if you want to stay encouraged during the sometimes long and winding pursuit of your goals and dreams, be careful what you watch, or stare at while you’re in the checkout line. Whether it’s on TV, at the movies, on the Internet, or along the street, use some discretion. Take stock of what’s illuminating (or darkening) your thoughts through the windows of your eyes. Follow Job’s example, and remember these additional promises:
“…The eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” (2 chronicles 16:9 NASB)
“…The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer….” (1 Peter 3:12 NIV)
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes….” (Revelation 21:4 NKJV)