January 4, 2023

Mental Margin

Written by Boyd Bailey

The enemy is out to fill your mental margin with his nasty noise, but silence will squelch his vile schemes.”

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – January 4, 2023

Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:2

The human brain is not meant to operate at full capacity all of the time. The Lord never sleeps or slumbers, but the mind of mere mortals must. If thinking never turns off, like an idling car engine, it eventually runs out of gas. Creativity is crushed under the weight of worry or having to work out urgent issues. A mind requires rest, just like the body, soul, and spirit. Wise are those who take the time to rest their minds.

We are creatures of habit who have become addicted to the screens of modern society. Phones aggressively capture the attention of our eyes and ears. They only let go of their grip when they are turned off. Computers save us time, only to consume our time with unnecessary and needless information. Like an addict who needs another hit or drink, we become inebriated with access to endless digital knowledge. Space age conveniences, like music and movies on demand, can demand our affections above the heart of God.

“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” (Philippians 4:8).

How do we guard the mind against being governed by outside forces? How can we give our minds a break, so God can give us a breakthrough in our thinking? A good first step is to regularly free ourselves from being a slave to screens. Set up blocks of time when the computer, phone, and television are turned off and ignored. Mental margin grows in a pared-down schedule. Your trust in Jesus gives you permission not to be accessible.

Outdoor physical activity provides mental gymnastics that stimulate different areas of brain engagement. Hence, mental margin does not mean mindlessness. But it does require creating space where the Lord can be heard and people’s emotions can be felt. A full head has nothing to give, but one empty of self has the capacity to know how to serve a loved one at their point of need. And above all else, allow the peace of God to guard your mind.

The demon Screwtape writes in C.S. Lewis’ creative classic how to distract Christians from silence with constant noise, Music and silence—how I detest them both! How thankful we should be that ever since our Father entered Hell—though longer ago than humans, reckoning in light years, could express—no square inch of infernal space and no moment of infernal time has been surrendered to either of those abominable forces, but all has been occupied by Noise— Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless, and virile—Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples, and impossible desires. We will make the whole universe a noise in the end.” Yes, the enemy is out to fill your mental margin with his nasty noise, but silence will squelch his vile schemes. 

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).


Heavenly Father, teach me how to rest in You, with my peace of mind from You, through Christ’s love and in Jesus’ name, amen.


Consider blocking off blocks of time to think, pray and be creative.

Related Reading

Daniel 10:12; Mark 8:33; 12:30; Romans 15:5-6

Worship Resource

Hillsong United: Be Still


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