When I was a kid, SPAM referred to a gelatinous canned meat product and everyone had one can in the back of the pantry just in case. Today, it refers to unwanted mail in our email inbox or emails containing false claims and sometimes viruses that can infect our computers. I've been taking aim at my email spam lately. Modern email platforms allow you to tag mail as spam so that it no longer clogs your inbox. Retailers also now offer an unsubscribe button at the bottom of most marketing emails so you no longer receive their many messages.
The "unsubscribe" concept isn't just a great email management strategy but one for the good of our own minds. Romans 12 is chock full of wisdom about the thoughts and values to which we should subscribe. Verse 2 says: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
The way to renew our mind and to find ourselves in the middle of God's will is to focus on His word and not what the world preaches to us. It can be confusing to know whether or not we are doing "good" or "right". God's word makes right and wrong very clear. Sometimes it smarts a little to hear it but I keep finding over and over again, when I subscribe to His word, I'm at peace.
The world tells us over and over that what we feel and what we want is most important. That we can have it all and not to let anyone stop us. That we don't have to worry about hurting others, they probably deserve it anyway and they can get over it. Not so. Verses 9-21 sum it all up beautifully:
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
When these truths finally started to sink in with me, I began to see areas in my life I needed to unsubscribe from:
Girlfriends who only complain about or put down their husbands or kids. This sort of behavior rubs off and try as one might, creeps into our own thinking about our families. Let's be honest, sometimes that loving your enemy thing starts right at home. Feeding that surly teenager can be just as hard as feeding the enemy overseas.
Social gatherings that center around drinking alcohol. I have no problem with folks who enjoy a drink, but my family was nearly destroyed by alcohol addiction. I am not the addict but I quickly lost the taste for the stuff and in honor of my loved one who is now over seven years sober, I choose not to drink. I also realized my interactions with people are more genuine and fulfilling when drinking isn't involved.
The idea that I could be the "perfect" Christian wife. Sometimes our strongholds and difficulties come from our misunderstanding of scripture. I read Proverbs 31 so many times and was convinced I could be that woman. She is pretty wonderful but not without the Lord himself holding her up daily. And even with my reliance on the Lord, my striving toward perfection is self centered and prideful. So I'll subscribe to loving Him first and being ok with the results.
Just like my electronic inbox, I have to be diligent to sweep the the inbox of my heart on a regular basis with the word and with worship. I've been snowed in with my family for several days. It's been a great time to clean out closets, cabinets and my inbox. I'm thankful for the imposed time to be still and unsubscribe.