When I was a kid, my mom used to annoy me with a metaphor. “Daniel,” she would say after catching me watching a movie or TV show she didn’t approve of, “what if I made you a pan of your favorite brownies and put just a little bit of dog poop in it? Would you eat it? If you watch a show that has just a little bad, it’s like you’re eating brownies with dog poop in them. You may not even taste it because the chocolate hides the flavor, but at the end of the day you still ate, well, poop.”
I hated it when my mom told me this story because I enjoyed whatever it was that I was watching or listening to, and I didn’t want her to make me feel bad about something I liked. I think I also hated it because deep down, I knew she was right. But it wasn’t until recently that I realized how right she was.
When I was younger, “24” was one of my favorite shows. After I started dating Rebecca, I would go to her house on Monday nights just so we could watch the final season together. It was fun, although the more serious we got in our relationship the less I paid attention to what was on TV.
Last night, I decided to check out a few episodes of “24 Legacy,” and it started to pull me in. At the same time, however, there were a few things—dirty things—that left me with a sick feeling in my stomach. The third episode ended, and I began to think about my mom’s brownies and a passage of Scripture that, as I’ve grown older, I’ve appreciated more and more.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
I used to think of this verse in the same way that I thought of my mom’s brownie story—as a kill-joy verse. A passage of Scripture that proves God doesn’t want us to have fun or enjoy life. But as I’ve gotten older (and hopefully more mature), I’ve come to realize that this passage of Scripture is not for God’s benefit, it’s for mine. If I fill my mind with things that are pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy I don’t get that sick feeling that I got last night during “24 Legacy.” When I fill my mind with things that are pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy, it gives me energy and makes me excited. I’m usually eager to share with others, and I never go to bed begging God to keep me from dreaming about all the junk I put in my head.
One of the things we need to realize is that God put together this amazing book for us, not to limit us and take away our fun, but to protect us from darkness. God didn’t create the big 10 because it’s fun to watch his children live miserably, he did it because he wants us to thrive, succeed and enjoy our lives.
God is a good and loving Father who doesn’t want us to eat poopy brownies, he wants us to eat 100% real, gooey, chocolate brownies (also probably organic, made with farm-fresh eggs and without high fructose corn syrup). So may you and I be encouraged when we read commandments in Scripture. May we not see those guidelines as restricting, but may we see them exactly for what they are—an outline for God’s children to experience the full, wonderful and abundant life that the Father has for us to live. And may we fill our minds, today, with things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.