Most Played

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Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things (Matt 12:33-35).
At work, I was recently sent to a quiet area of the building to do a rather monotonous job. Since I was working by myself and the task was repetitive, I decided to listen to music while I worked. I opened the music app on my phone and at the top are several automatically generated playlists, like "Recently Added," "Recently Played," and "Most Played." I selected the "Most Played" list and started working.
"Most Played!" I began to ponder “Most Played” lists. How does the app decide what songs qualify? Does the app track what songs I play and how often I play them? How does a song lose its position and get replaced by another one? How does the app know if it has the right one hundred songs? How do I know if the app actually has the 100 songs I play the most? There were songs that, although I hadn’t played them for weeks or even months, I had evidently listened to them so frequently at some point in the past that they still qualified for the "Most Played." Some of the songs were catchy but didn’t have much spiritual value. Some were poorer quality recordings but had good quality lyrics. Some were recordings of brass or woodwind instruments, and some were only piano music. Some were Christmas songs, while others were old hymns or songs of commitment. My "Most Played" list certainly has a very wide variety of songs! But all the songs had at least three things in common.
First, each of them was on that playlist by my own choice. No, I had not consciously put them there, but I had chosen what songs to listen to on other days, thereby choosing which songs qualified as "Most Played." If I always select my "Most Played" list, I will always listen to the same one hundred songs. Although I can deliberately remove songs from the "Most Played" list, the way to change the songs on that list is to carefully pick and repeatedly play the songs that I want on it.
Real-life also has a lot of "Most Played" lists. I find that I have a "Most Played" list of the attitudes I express in the attitudes section of my life. What would I find if I were to play through the attitudes found in the "Most Played" list? Which attitudes would be at the top? Only a few weeks ago, there were some little things brought to my attention, but I didn’t like them and didn’t want to accept or change them. I began playing disrespectful attitudes as I mentally reviewed the issues and harbored resentment toward the individual who had brought them.
Along with the disrespectful attitudes, I played attitudes of resentment and bitterness. Joy and happiness got bumped off the list, along with love, kindness, and forbearance. The willingness to serve became a begrudging obligation to slave. And so, the good attitudes that I should have been displaying got bumped off my "Most Played" list, and the bad attitudes came to the top.
Playing bad attitudes affected other areas too. It affected my "Most Played" list of facial expressions. There were glares and frowns, and a generally downcast appearance while the smile, sparkling eyes, and cheerful countenance got dropped. Nor was my "Most Played" list of verbal expressions exempt. Praise, commendation, and thanksgiving were replaced with nitpicking, fault-finding, and grumbling. It is sobering how swiftly my "Most Played" lists are affected.
The second thing each of those "Most Played" songs had in common is the fact that each is stored in my phone’s memory. All these songs on my phone are there by my own choice. Some I found and chose to download. Some were sent to me, and I accepted them. Some were carried over from my old phone, and I let them stay. Likewise, my attitudes and actions are also mine by choice. Some are ones that came pre-loaded because I am human. Some I observed and learned from family and friends. Some I found and chose to cultivate. But I am still responsible for which ones I choose to play, every time I play them.
Thirdly, each of the "Most Played" songs has been played numerous times before. Some of the songs that I liked were not even on my "Most Played" list, although they were still on my phone. I had listened to them several times and then forgotten about them. Most of those songs were included in other playlists that I had created myself, but that alone does not put them in the "Most Played" list. I find that some of my attitudes and actions are in the same category. I really like them and know that they are good and have even included them in my Good Intentions playlist, but I haven’t used them often enough to qualify for the "Most Played" list.
Back to the episode mentioned earlier, I did have a good chat with the individual who brought the little things to me and made things right. But I still have a lot of hard work to correct my "Most Played" lists. Repenting of bad attitudes doesn’t automatically take them off the "Most Played" list, nor does it delete the grumbling. Just like in my music app, I need to pick what attitudes and actions I will play if I want to change what is on my "Most Played" list.
When you look through your "Most Played" lists, what do you find? Are the fruits of Spirit at the top, or is it mostly works of the flesh? If you could print your "Most Played" lists and hand them out to your friends, would you be willing to let them see and critique it? More importantly, does God approve of everything on your "Most Played" lists? Just like the songs I choose to listen to regularly will affect my "Most Played" list, so the attitudes and actions I choose to display will affect the "Most Played" lists in my life.
"Most Played" lists can be a good test of what is in our hearts. As Jesus said, in Matthew 12:35, A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. What is on your "Most Played" list?