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  • Writer's pictureTroy Spradlin

Garbage In. Garbage Out.

by Troy Spradlin

As much as I try to avoid it, there just comes a time when the garbage has to be taken out. Is that just a guy thing? What is it about taking out the garbage that provokes procrastination in so many of us? (Probably another lesson for another day). Yet seriously, what happens if the trash isn't eventually taken out? The house begins to smell really bad, the wife is unhappy, and worse, bugs will start showing up - nobody wants that. If I just take

out the trash, everyone is happier, the house is clean, and we won't have an insect infestation. Can't you see a spiritual application here? If we don't rid ourselves of mental junk, worthless preoccupations, or self-centered refuse, then our "house" (mind) becomes noxious, our lives unhappy, and as Ecclesiastes 10:1 says, "A few dead flies in perfume make all of it stink, and a little foolishness outweighs a lot of wisdom." Another way of saying this is, "Whatever you allow to influence your brain, then that is what you are going to get out of it."

Did you know that the phrase "garbage in, garbage out " was known as GIGO among early computer pioneers? The expression was first noted by the inventor of the world's first programmable computing device, Charles Babbage. He posed the question, "[I]f you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" He was emphasizing that computers cannot think for themselves, therefore, incorrect inputs inevitably lead to incorrect outputs. As computers continued to develop, the phrase became popular among programmers. About 1963, a young newspaper reporter, named James Crowley, is thought to be the first to put it into print. In an article, he wrote, "Did you mis-punch a hole while writing your first program? Got yourself a case of GIGO. Did you mis-transcribe a crucial bit of math, turning the 1962 Mariner satellite into an $18 million piece of exploded space junk? GIGO. Was your 1963 tax refund incorrect due to a data entry error at the processing facility in Martinsburg, WV? GIGO."

While the phrase may have its origins in the digital world, it still has powerful meaning for spiritual things. Paul wrote, "... keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don't ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise." (Philippians 4:8 - CEV) Now, why would Paul say that? It is because we humans tend to have a problem with GIGO. For example, we all know that our bodies require regular nourishment in order to continue to function properly. That is how God designed us. Well, our minds also require regular, proper nourishment in order to function as God designed it. In fact, Paul also said, "If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed." (1 Timothy 4:6 - NKJV) Do you see? The words of faith and doctrine provide us mental "nourishment." That's a reference to good cognitive sustenance, the opposite of GIGO.

The truth is, if we allow the constant barrage of negative and divisive news cycles, belligerent rants of angry talk show hosts, brainless reality show babble, hateful social media posts, or mind-numbing gossip to constantly feed us, then it is the equivalent of eating mental junk food! They are empty and worthless, much like the empty calories of unhealthy food. It might "taste’"good in the moment, but always results in mental lethargy rather than healthy growth and empowerment. So, it seems that the old adage, "you are what you eat" must be true!

The Bible says, "For as he thinks within himself, so he is." (Proverbs 23:7) We are all prone to reflect what we allow to influence us. So, make sure you have the right influences in life! Be at Bible study and worship services every time the doors are open. Regularly attend group Bible studies, fellowship activities, or church events. Visit the sick and needy among the brethren. Surround yourself with like-minded disciples of Christ. It will have an enormous impact on your spiritual nourishment. Remember, "Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God." (3 John 11) That's another way to saying "avoid GIGO."

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