Garbage In, Garbage Out

Does your mind work like a computer? Mine does. Just like my computer, my mind is capable of storing unbelievable amounts of information. I can still remember my 10th birthday party, my first day of junior high, and my first date with my husband. Just like a computer, my mind is capable of filing lyrics to hundreds of songs (when was the last time you heard a song on the radio that you didn’t know the words to?) along with data on how to add and subtract, tell the difference between a pretty flower and a poison ivy leaf and diagram a sentence. And sometimes, just like a computer, my mind crashes and I find it difficult to think at all.

Our minds are like computers in another way. Just like computers, what we put into our minds is exactly what we get out. It is a basic law of computer programming that a computer cannot output something that it was not programmed to do. In other words, what goes in is what comes out.

Nancy and Dannah write about this principle in Lies Young Women Believe.

“In the early days of computer science, programmers developed the phrase, ‘Garbage in, garbage out’ (abbreviated to GIGO). It meant that whatever you program into the computer is what you’re going to get out. If you input corrupt data, you’re going to get corrupt results” (Lies Young Women Believe, 152).

The reality is our minds work according to the GIGO principle. The kinds of things we watch, read, listen to and think about will affect the way we talk, feel and live. And when it comes to programming our minds, the simple truth is that if we put garbage in, we will get garbage out. If the television and movies we are watching and the magazines we are reading and the music we are listening to are communicating messages that don’t line up with God’s message, it won’t be long before those ideas are spilling right out of our mouths.

In my life, I find this to be especially true of my music choices. I tend to gravitate toward music with lyrics that are less than wholesome and uplifting. I love anything with a beat and I often try to convince myself that I’m not really listening to the lyrics or that the lyrics won’t affect me. The truth is, I know better.

Recently I was listening to a popular song on a secular radio station. In fact, the song has been the number one download on iTunes for the past several weeks. It certainly does have a catchy beat, but the lyrics are less than God honoring. In fact, throughout the song the female singer crones about her experience kissing another girl. The details were enough to make me blush. But I kept listening, because the song made my speakers rumble and my feet tap. I told myself that the words wouldn’t affect me.

A few days later, I couldn’t get the song out of my head. I found myself singing the lyrics out loud. I was caught. Good beat or not, putting garbage in, had resulted in me pouring garbage out.

The same is true if we commit to programming our minds with “good stuff.” If the messages you are sending your brain reflect God’s heart, it won’t belong before the fruits of God’s spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control will begin outputting into your life.

The Bible tells us to fill our minds with good things in Philippians 4:8-9. “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.”

Consider these words your owner’s manual for your mind. If your wondering if the information you are inputting will create an output that glorifies God, stack it up against these words. If it is garbage, throw it out.

About Author

Erin Davis

Erin is passionate about pointing young women toward God's Truth. She is the author of several books and a frequent speaker and blogger to women of all ages. Erin lives on a small farm in the midwest with her husband and kids. When she's not writing, you can find her herding goats, chickens, and children.

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