It seems that almost everyone has a plan for how you can “get ahead” in life. Advertisements, commercials, books, blogs…every information vehicle we know of…has some message on how to improve your diet, your shape, your love life, your education, your career, and on and on and on.
Nearly every one of their “secrets to improvement” focuses in on something that we need to start (or stop) doing. With enough changes to our behavior, they tell us, we can achieve whatever goal we set out to accomplish. While behaviors do have to change if we desire a different outcome than where we are currently at, the change in behavior won’t occur unless something deeper changes first.
What we think about throughout the day will determine our actions throughout the day. If I toy with lustful thoughts, then lustful actions will eventually follow. If I’m focusing my spare moments on devising ways to enhance my skill set or mulling over new concepts to develop my education, then I will end up being more effective in those endeavors. For better or worse, the things we think about will be what looms largest and develops the fastest in our lives.
This process is what the Bible refers to as our meditation. Biblical meditation isn’t a bunch of mental gymnastics aimed at emptying our minds, rather it is the intentional consideration of truth found in the Scriptures. The author of Psalm 119 recognized the importance of meditating on God’s Word. Read through this section and identify what benefits he found:
How I love Your teaching! It is my meditation all day long.
Your command makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is always with me.
I have more insight than all my teachers because Your decrees are my meditation.
I understand more than the elders because I obey Your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every evil path to follow Your word.
I have not turned from Your judgments, for You Yourself have instructed me.
How sweet Your word is to my taste – sweeter than honey to my mouth.
I gain understanding from Your precepts; therefore I hate every false way.
Wiser than my enemies, more insight than all my teachers, understanding more than the elders…these impressive benefits are not boasts, rather they are factual statements. The psalmist could identify the benefits he had received, but kept his ego in check as he recognized where those benefits had come from. He surpassed those around him only because he was focusing his thoughts continually on God’s command, decrees, and precepts. God’s revealed Word was the material that he was filling his mind with.
It’s also important to note how much time the author allowed God’s teaching to percolate in his mind before he reaped the benefits. My favorite crockpot recipe takes 7 hours on a low heat setting before it is fully ready to meet my body’s need for fuel and my desire for good tasting food. Cranking up the heat to try to speed up the cooking process doesn’t make for a good meal, either. Similarly, we see that the psalmist allowed God’s word to be his meditation all day long, and likely for many days over, in order to reap the long-term benefits in his life.
So we have to ask ourselves, What’s simmering in the back of our minds? When we have moments while we wait our turn at the doctor’s office, at a stoplight, or as we wait for others…what are we thinking about? The default for most of us is to bury our face in our phones or just let our minds wander to whatever random subject crowds in. If we would use those moments to keep our meditation going on God’s command, decrees, and precepts, then we’re sure to see the same benefits and improvements the author of Psalm 119 did.