Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I won't be amused, until I've mused

I was listening to a talk show on the radio recently, and during the discussion one of the speakers mentioned that the word "amuse" can be broken into two parts: "a" and "muse." "Muse" means to think. "A" in front of a word often means "not" (such as atypical, which means not the norm). So "amuse" literally means to not think. And isn't that true of so much entertainment we consume these days? We long to escape from the world, and often "mindless" entertainment is our answer.

That might be fine at times; in fact, so often doing so helps us refresh. But we should always be careful to consider whatever enters our minds whenever we read books and magazines, watch TV and movies, and so on. The words in those media came about through much thinking on the part of the writers--and sometimes, maybe even without their knowing, their messages subtly lead their consumers astray from what's right in God's eyes. God cares what we think about (Jeremiah 11:20), and that doesn't just mean whether we sin. In fact, rather than being passive in our thinking, we are told to dwell on those things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). In Philippians 3:4-11, Paul's example reminds us that even the best of minds can get it all wrong if they don't have God providing true wisdom. When we seek the highest of all things, God, we are to fully engage our minds (1 Chronicles 22:19), and our love for Him should be with our whole mind (among other things)--Matthew 22:37. Feelings alone aren't sufficient for a vital relationship with the God of the Bible.

When we think, especially when our minds are set on the things of God (Mark 8:33), we are more likely to not only not be led astray, but we'll more fully realize how we can benefit those around us, & ultimately how we can glorify God in doing so. We'll see that God wants us to be producers--to add to society, and not just to consume what is out there.

After all, consider Jesus's time on earth. He gave far more than He received. And so many of us are much better off for it. In our average day, do we think and pray about ways to give of ourselves for a better, more God-honoring society? My wife is very creative and thoughtful in her job as a daycare teacher for a large classroom of toddlers. Every day she thinks of ways to help those young minds learn and have fun. She has learned over the years, through experience, training, and most of all prayer, to work with an age group that can be difficult to manage for most of us--even if there are only a couple of those young tykes present. I marvel when she shares how she was able to make those children laugh, or join in a song, or sit with wonder as she reads them a story. Even when she hasn't planned out her work day, she can use what she has learned over the years to help make those children happy & fulfilled so they can grow up to excel in life.

May we all learn to bless others by using our God-given minds, and then after we've done so, relax and give our minds a well-deserved (but not careless) time of rest (and even some amusement).

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