This is the time of year when people are in the gym, eating kale, and going to bed early. It’s “New Year’s Resolution” season, and we’re all talking about what we’re NOT going to do, eat, or be in the new year.
If we’re serious about changing ourselves, we have to look at the three things that influence us more than anything else…. the people we hang out with, the books we read, and the things we watch & listen to. And if we truly want things to be different, we need to remember a principle that Jesus taught us about creating voids and vacuums.
When evil is removed from our lives, it leaves a void that, if it’s not filled with good, will be refilled with evil…more evil than before. Vacuums don’t get left unfilled. Here’s what He said in Matthew 12:43-45…
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
So, if you know you are in relationships that are not good for you, the best way to make progress is to replace those relationships quickly; don’t leave that empty void where evil can come back in multiples. Reach out to new friends… Christian friends. Initiate. Replace friends who are bad for you with people who are good for you, even if they don’t seem as interesting or fun.
If you’re about changing what you read, watch and listen to, invest in some new books, music and movies. Worshipping God through music heals a lot of things at the same time, not only replacing unhealthy and sometimes outright evil music with music that praises God and changes our hearts at the same time. There are movies that tell great stories, inspire us as humans, and warm our hearts. It takes some effort to find them, and you’ll get disappointed at times, but replacing what we watch with good stuff is easier than going “cold turkey” and trying to stop watching anything.
And books…the average American reads only 2.4 books per year.
There are over 200 new Christian titles released each month. Find two or three that seem interesting to you and read them. Finish each one, whether you want to or not. You’ll feel good about yourself when you finish the book. Always have a Christian book by your side. When you’re lonely, read. When you turn off your computer to avoid temptation, read. When you choose not to watch that movie you rented, read. You’ll be learning and growing at the same time you’re filing that unoccupied space where evil can re-enter.
But the best replacement of all is Jesus Himself. Darkness can’t be where the light is, and initiating a conversation with Jesus will turn away those evil thoughts and temptations quicker than anything else. And He’ll give you the courage to change the channel, pick up the Bible or a Christian book, choose another friend to call, or pick a praise song from iTunes and start singing it out to Him. Just ask and see what happens.
Question: What do you want to replace in your life this year?