We are also influenced by outside sources that can affect us both positively and negatively. Influence is powerful. If I were to hang out with guys that like to hunt a lot, and if I read hunting magazines and watch hunting videos on a regular basis, then I will probably want to go hunting all the time. I would talk about, dream about, and make every effort to spend as much time as possible hunting. Silly illustration? It might be, but replace hunting in that illustration with something else. Gardening, golf, cooking, scrapbooking, prayer, Bible study. If we are constantly feeding our minds with these activities, then we will develop a passion for them and will do whatever we can to make time for them in our lives. I'm not implying that we have only one thing in our life that we enjoy doing. I'm also not implying that any of the above activities are, in and of themselves, sinful. I'm simply pointing out that the old saying is true, "you are what you eat".
Think about who you spend your time with, what you read, what you watch and, what you listen to. All of these influences have a huge impact on how we think, how we speak, what we are passionate about, what we believe and how we spend our time. If you find yourself struggling with a lack of desire to be in church, to pray, to read your Bible, etc. then you should start by taking an inventory of your influences. When I'm around passionate Christians who aren't ashamed to share their faith, have a dynamic prayer life, love being in church, and treasure the Word of God, it sparks a fire in me to do those things as well. Show me your influences and I will tell you what your passions are. I can probably tell you what your struggles are as well. What we become is a direct result of what our influences are.
1 Corinthians 15:33 NKJV
Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."
Proverbs 13:20 NKJV
He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.
John 15:4-5 NKJV
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
It's clear in scripture, and I've seen it in my own life, that what we put into our minds through relationships, reading materials, and entertainment will shape who we become. We must choose our influences carefully. Spend time with devoted Christians, those who are passionate about prayer and God's kingdom. Listen to more sermons and less music. Read more and watch fewer movies. You are what you eat, so pile your plate with the right stuff.
Patrick A. Thomson