Social media is beginning to garner a reputation of decay and deceit. In 2017 and 2018 it was Facebook that found itself having to defend its practices. Switching focus in 2019, Twitter is now the evil platform being pursued. While many of the internet companies employ questionable practices that incite particular behaviors, they alone are not at fault. In a fury of anger, consumers forget that they also have a burden of responsibility regarding the information they consume and distribute.
Our culture has taken on a form that now requires discernment before dissemination, verification before vilification. The effort required quickly causes individuals to diminish the value of these vital tasks. Discernment, verification, and related aspects are not merely part of good behavior, they are essential to being responsible humans. The institution of one rule would serve well in fighting against the propagation of falsehood: do not believe everything you think but think about everything you believe.
The tendency these days is to believe everything that affirms our already preconceived conditions and reject anything that is contrary to them. Unfortunately, there is a general lack of motivation to learn, desire to be objective, and incentive to forgo this way of living. We need to cultivate a people who first, does not believe everything they think.
Thinking these days is cultivated more by the heart than the head. Because thinking is cultivated by the heart, so are the reactions. This is proven by our emotionalistic society driven more by anger and happiness than rationality and joy. Rarely does such an emotional response justify the results it yields (just consider the storylines dominating the news last week calling for the physical harm to individuals based on fabricated storylines). Combined with the lack of responsibility that individuals now bear for their actions, we have a very concerning situation. This contributes to the notion that we cannot believe everything we think. This is not to negate the necessity of emotions in joyful living, but instead is meant to consider the necessity of truth forming the foundation.
Do not believe everything you think but think about everything you believe. Several biblical skills serve to propagate this behavior:
- Ability to Listen, Ability to Speak: James urges listening over speaking (James 1:19-20), a point often affirmed in Proverbs (i.e. Proverbs 14:29). He does not renounce the value of speaking, even later on he discusses the use of the tongue and indirectly elevates the gift of teaching. However, he places the now lost art of listening in a priority position. Listening forces us to consider, ponder, and evaluate.
- Evaluate: Paul warns of a time in which people will search for that which will tickle their ears, but in light of that the Word is to prevail (cf. 2 Timothy 4:1-4). Such a cultural inclination will not be confronted without proper evaluation of what is being presented in light of absolute truth.
- Meditate on the Word (Psalm 1:1-3): There is a responsibility to instill truth into the culture, but it requires that truth is instilled into us. The Psalmist writes of the need to be grounded in God’s word, which we know to be truth.
- Be Transformed: Finally, believers should be transformed, specifically through the renewing of one’s mind (Romans 12:2). The importance of the mind is highlighted, and the key towards transformation. It stresses then, the priority of what goes into our mind, which should be fixated on the Lord (Colossians 3:1-4).
To think about everything we believe is no simple quality. It requires less effort to simply accept or reject as we please according to our own inclinations.
Tainted by sin, humans are not infallible. Therefore, one must employ great caution in unconditional acceptance. We would do well to implement one rule: don’t believe everything you think and but think about everything you believe.
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