A young woman holding a heart made out of a light "rope"

The Filtering System

Our hearts and minds make up our inner reality, the inmost part of who we are, our “inner man” (Ephesians 3:16). This inner reality bears fruit in the form of attitudes, priorities, perspectives, motivations, aspirations, and so forth. Since our hearts and minds are the wellspring of how we deal with life, relate to people, invest our time and attention, and react to trials and success, they need to be kept free of the gunk that can bombard us in daily life.

Our hearts and minds have a filtering system that can help us with this. This system processes all of the information that we receive each day and determines which pieces get incorporated into how we think and what we value, and which ones “bounce off.” A question quietly accompanies certain bits of information that we receive from conversations, media, and circumstances: Will I take it to heart, or refuse to let it influence me? We have the choice of keeping the good and deflecting the bad, choosing the other way around, or choosing some mixture of both.

Our choices depend on the prior programming of our filtering system, which has several contributing board members: conscience, character, emotions, knowledge, needs, and the will. All of them need to be fed with the word of God and adjusted to what it says. This is a very important part of cooperating with God to set things right on a personal level.

  • Conscience identifies right from wrong, unless it has been hardened by sin. Then it can sit through life very quietly, raising no alarms.
  • Character chooses between right and wrong. It can have a leaning in either direction, depending on the information and experiences that have been allowed to shape it.
  • Our emotions can serve as a motivator for initiative and a sustainer of commitment and endurance. But sometimes emotional reactions can propel us past the soundness and safety of good sense.
  • Knowledge furnishes the conscience and character with information to do their jobs. It is the most beneficial when the information is thorough and aligned with the truth, otherwise faulty decisions and inclinations can be generated.
  • What the needs will contribute to the decision-making process is a tough call. They can spin us out past good sense if they are unfulfilled, or they can yield to the advice of the other board members.
  • The will can weigh in on the filtering process either by remaining true to a prearranged course of action or commitment, or by condoning a detour in favor of the current whims of our “want-er” (“I want this,” “I want that”). The will can either fight against the conscience and character, or stay in subjection to them. 

Either the consensus of the group members or the voice of the strongest member determines whether we allow what we hear, see, read, or experience to influence us. Each day the board sifts through circumstances, surprises, emergencies, harsh words, kind words, bad news, good news, temptations, and so forth. Each of these has the potential to influence who we are and what we do. So we need to be careful, and our filtering systems need to be ready. Our careless choices and sudden responses can reap an attitude or an action which can become hardened into a harmful habit of life.

Taking in the word of God and adjusting ourselves to it helps to program the members of our filtering system so that our minds and hearts stay healthy and gunk-free. It helps us to make choices and form habits that reap God’s blessings rather than His judgments.

From: Beebe Kauffman, Isaiah: Setting Things Right (Buford, Georgia: Lighthouse Bible Studies, LLC, 2013), 132-133.

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