Our society right now is filled with negativity. There is health and economic uncertainty. News channels—social and traditional—are filled with anger and hostility. Sometimes it feels like we are being bombarded with unrelenting sources of discouragement.
You turn on any news channel right now, and you will find anchors forcefully working to convince you to see things their way and side against someone or something else. Scroll through social media, and you’ll find posts designed to draw you into online conflict. Turn on the radio, and you’ll hear angry voices hoping to evoke frustration. Pick up the newspaper, and you’ll read one column after another of discouragement.
Altogether, it becomes a type of phychological warfare.
As Christians, we know that under the surface of politics, economics, health, and social tensions, there is a spiritual battle raging. Satan works “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10), and he is willing to use any method or platform to do it. Part of his tactic is always psychological warfare.
The challenge for us is to keep our minds focused on the truth of Christ rather than dwelling on the negativity. And 2 Corinthians 10:5 gives us the strategy to do this:
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;—2 Corinthians 10:5
We know that Satan will fight and that he will do so through hostile imaginations in our minds and thoughts that would tend to exalt themselves against the knowledge of Christ. So how do we fight back?
1. Submit your thoughts to Christ.
What we think on is our choice. Rather than allowing outside influences (such as the news or an unending stream of social media) to fill our minds, we can choose to fill our minds with Scripture.
In fact, God gives us a filter for what thoughts we should choose to think on.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.—Philippians 4:8
When you find yourself pulled into the secular cycles of anger and discouragement, consider what has been filling your mind. And then turn to Scripture and saturate your mind in its truth.When you find yourself pulled into the secular cycles of anger and discouragement, consider what has been filling your mind. And then turn to Scripture and saturate your mind in its truth. Click To Tweet
2. Be cautious about dreaming outside the revealed will of God.
One of the dangers of a continual intake of negativity is that it can lead to fantasies that there is a better way than God’s plan for you. This is part of what 2 Corinthians 10:5 warns against when it refers to “every high thing that exalted itself against the knowledge of God.”
When you find yourself overwhelmed by the negativity and discouraged from believing in the power of the gospel to impact our communities and change lives, you’ll be tempted to think that other ideas, groups, or locations will provide relief or help. That’s dangerous ground because it could easily lead you away from God and His will for your life, rather than leading you closer to God through these difficulties. God will always make a way for you to follow Him, and His grace will always be sufficient for you.God will always make a way for you to follow Him, and His grace will always be sufficient for you. Click To Tweet
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.—2 Corinthians 12:9
3. Encourage yourself in the Lord.
When David was at his lowest point and in physical danger besides, he made a choice that was the turning point in his situation. That choice was to encourage himself in the Lord.
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.—1 Samuel 30:6
Read Psalms. Sing spiritual songs. List blessings of God for which to give thanks. Share the gospel with someone, and be reminded of God’s grace to you in the process. Think about one of the attributes of Jesus that thrills your heart. There are a hundred ways to encourage yourself in the Lord, but they all require a choice to focus on Christ and His goodness.There are a hundred ways to encourage yourself in the Lord, but they all require a choice to focus on Christ and His goodness. Click To Tweet
4. Find sharpening influences.
There are a lot of people who will tell you how bad everything is. And there is unrelenting media that will push their narrative 24/7. But when you get a friend who will tell you how good God is, how essential church is, and how needful Scripture is, keep that friend.
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.—Proverbs 27:17
It’s okay to not watch the news. It’s okay to take a sabbatical from social media. It’s great to intentionally put some good, sharpening, encouraging influences in your life.
Be faithful to your church services—in person if possible, but on live stream if not possible. Stay connected to your friends from your small group or Sunday school class at church. Read a good book or a biography of a great Christian that will stir your heart for God. Look for opportunities to encourage others. Sometimes the best way to be encouraged is to give encouragement!Sometimes the best way to be encouraged is to give encouragement. Click To Tweet
There is a psychological warfare going on. The mainstream media is pushing it. There are people who would like us to stew on it and be discouraged by it. But remember, “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Keep your heart and mind in subjection to Jesus Christ, and you can live in joy and victory.