What Comes Out Is Determined By What Goes In

“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”

Psalm 119:11

One of the simplest but most effective principles that every follower of Christ needs to learn is that “What comes out of our lives is determined by what goes in.”  Let me illustrate what I mean with an example from my childhood. When I was a kid my dad and I used to fish in the Ohio River near my hometown of Steubenville, OH.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with that area, the Ohio River is formed by the confluence of the Allegheny and the Monogahela river at Pittsburgh, PA, initially flowing north until it takes a sharp left turn, reversing it’s direction and flowing south.  This change in the course of the river forms the northern panhandle of the state of West Virginia.  Back in the 1960’s and 70’s the banks of this river from Pittsburgh to Wheeling, WV was dotted with giant steel mills.  Some of my fondest memories of childhood involve floating down the Ohio River in my dad’s boat catching large mouth bass, catfish, carp, and even the occasional walleye.  In spite, of what you might think the fishing was actually pretty good back then but there was one key rule that we always observed.  We never ate any of the fish that came out of that river!  The reason was that many of those steel mills and the other industrial plants that lined the banks of that river dumped polluted waste into the waters of the river.  Due to that fact, the fish that came out of the river were dangerous, perhaps even deadly to eat.  What went into the river determined what was coming out of it.  The same principle holds true in our spiritual lives.  Let me flesh that out a little bit for you.

If there is nothing coming into your life, nothing is going to be able to flow out. 

The Ohio river is a massive river but it depends on the flow from the Monogahela, the Allegheny, and hundreds of other smaller streams and creeks for its water supply.  If we were to suddenly cut off the waters from these sources from flowing into the Ohio, the river would quickly dry up and cease to flow.  That is the way it is with your life.  If you don’t maintain a constant inflow of spiritual resources into your life you will quickly dry up.   It would be shocking to most Christians to realize  how quickly this process can occur if the inflow was immediately cut off.  But what usually happens is that problems and concerns of life simply mount up and slowly cut off the inflow from our lives.  Like cholesterol slowly and imperceptibly building up in our arteries over the course of years, so to will the problem of ministry clog up the spiritual arteries of our hearts if we are not careful.  

If we are going to fix this fundamental problem we must focus on the inflow of our lives.  A couple of months ago the doctor told me that I have high cholesterol, in addition to putting me on Lipitor, he also told me to go on a low fat, high fiber diet that will help to reduce the inflow of bad cholesterol into my blood stream.  The same basic principle holds true in our spiritual lives.  If we want to have a healthy spiritual life we need to cut down on the fat and increase the healthy spiritual food that we take in.  That means that we need to her serious about maintaining our Bible reading and study.  It means that we need to cut down on the time we invest in entertainment and start digging deeper into the things of God.  

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