The Software of the Soul
If you took a computer apart, you would see all kinds of screws, lines of solder, strange little caps, wires etc. But to make the machine work properly you need something invisible— information! Information to program the machine and teach the wires how to function, information specific to a certain job application and instructions on how to display the invisible onto a screen that we can now see and understand. But then, what is seen is transferred into our brains to interpret and to apply in our speech or actions. We, as living organisms made in the image of God, are far more complex; but the metaphor—looking at how a computer functions—is very relevant. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life (everything you do flows from it).”
Often we are motivated to speak or act or behave in a certain way when we are gripped by a certain emotion, positive or negative. Emotions often provide the energy to power what we are convinced about. Part of our brain is dedicated to our emotions. However, the mind, our intellect, also must be programmed with the right information. Paul’s letter to the Philippians has a wonderful set of verses which tie together the emotions and also the mind in a way that will provide our souls with stability and joy especially during times of difficulty and stress. Read Philippians 4: 4-8, the starting point is to rejoice in the Lord! Why? By rejoicing in the Lord, we look upwards and affirm His glory. We attest to His character and then, see ourselves in relationship to the Almighty! In all of life’s situations, both the good and the bad, we must start by looking upwards! Only by doing that can we engage the admonition in v. 6 “Do not be anxious about anything.”
We get the upper hand when we enlist someone bigger than ourselves. And when that someone is our Heavenly Father, we are on the right track! Often the first part in being able to think straight is to calm our nerves. David, when drawing close to God says, “I have stilled and quieted my soul.” (Ps. 131) There is nowhere that we can go where the Lord is not near. In Phil 4:7 we see again the idea of guarding. In Proverbs, it reads in such a way that it is we who have to do the guarding. Remember that children’s song, “Be careful little eyes what you see….for the Father up above is looking down in love.” And the song goes on about what we hear, speak and do. Here, in verse 7 it is “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” that will guard not only our hearts but also our minds. God enables us to calm our troubled souls and then allows us to think clearly and well. However, just like roads have signs of various sorts for us to drive appropriately, verse 8 gives us the principles by which to think: TNR and PLA. True: These days truth is sometimes hard to discern. Politics, lobby groups, right/left wing persuaders, outright falsehoods, misguided loyalties, all can taint truth. When Paul spoke to the Bereans, they “searched the scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was true.” Noble: We need to focus and strive for God to build into our lives the fruits of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22,23 Those are the noble features of the Christian walk! Right: In the past 150 years, we have slipped into the fog of relativity, no longer as a society referencing our right and wrong on God’s Word. In fact, sin is celebrated and considered “the new normal”. The Psalmist said in Ps. 119 “Your word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you.” It is little wonder that people want to suppress belief in God, because then they think they can escape the moral restraints to which God will hold them accountable. Pure: This means being free of contamination; being wholesome. We are surrounded by impurity on TV, in magazines, internet programs, and books. Our young people are exposed to impurity all the time, including the foul language of friends. This is where we have to make some deliberate choices to steer clear of impurity and to pray. Lovely: When we learn to discern what is lovely, we then can instantly perceive what is not. Beauty in a sunset, a flower, a piece of music all reflect the glory of God! Admirable: When we recognize what is admirable, it will motivate us to grow in grace and seek to emulate what is best. We often learn best by imitation, observing directly or by means of biography of great men and women.
And so, we have God’s prescription for being the people that He wants us to be. It is through the work of our Lord Jesus. First, the redemption that He offers us through the Cross. Then, His working in our lives through the Holy Spirit and with our yielded will “to guard our hearts and our minds.” He more than willingly will do His part but we also must do ours! It is only with the right “software” that the soul can thrive.