I’ve often described our minds as being like a TV set with a remote control that seems to spontaneously change channels on us. The issue is our power to concentrate, and especially concentrate on good things.
Entertainment has often been a force to shorten our attention spans. Compare a movie or TV show from 50 years ago or more with today’s programming. The pace was slower in the past. Several Christian disciplines help us develop longer attention spans. Reading, especially Bible reading for a Christian, lengthens our attention span. Prayer is another practice where we are concentrating on our relationship with God, and finally, the worship assembly is another place where keeping our minds engaged with worship is important (1 Cor. 14:15). I believe these are learned behaviors that get better as we practice them. And in our practice, we may have to recall our minds to what we are doing whether reading, prayer, or worship. I’m not going to claim that stray thoughts never enter my mind while engaged in these activities, but I’ve gotten better at it over time. We have to keep “changing the channel” back to what we are focusing on. We have to fight for control of our minds.
Another disturbing problem is that our mind can go to wrong thoughts. We deal with wrong thoughts by “changing to the channel” to good thoughts. And we aid this process by not filling our minds with evil thoughts. Paul’s instructions are important.
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. (Philippians 4:8, ESV)
This is a reminder that “the unknown remote control” isn’t in charge. We are. We replace evil thoughts with noble thoughts.
Prayer also aids us in this challenge. Paul’s statement in Romans 8 is appropriate: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13, ESV).
In prayer we ask God for help in controlling our thoughts and especially for ridding ourselves of evil thoughts. I think God honors this verse and helps us with our weaknesses. With God’s help we learn strategies and gain strength in controlling our thoughts and minds. Christian living involves self-discipline for moral and spiritual mind control.
— Russ Holden