By Krista Tunby
One of my spiritual heroes is Amy Carmichael, who as a young Scottish girl in the early 1900s encountered God in a very real way and began sorting out her priorities. She responded to His call of set-apartness, and decided in her heart that from that point on, nothing in her life would ever matter to her again except the things that were eternal. She went on to become one of the greatest women missionaries who ever lived, personally rescuing over 1,000 children from temple prostitution in India. She wrote: “What is the secret to great living? Entire separation to Christ and devotion to Him. Thus speaks every man and woman whose life has made more than a passing flicker in the spiritual realm. It is the life that has not time for trifling that counts.”
Amy is a great example of answering the call of Jesus, who stated that, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24 ESV). But what does this calling look like in our everyday lives? Of course, there is so much that could go into this, yet it really is such a simple principle: denying yourself, following and trusting Jesus, and taking every thought captive to obedience to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). But sometimes the first step is to eliminate some of the clutter from our lives—one of them being the Internet.
Technology has become a part of modern life and is deeply embedded in today’s families. Not only children, but parents are becoming just as dependent on digital tools. “Technology has become America’s new addiction,” Barna group states in its 2011 trends, and continues to say that it has been received with open arms by almost every home, and has become a “necessity.” The Internet can be a useful tool and beneficial to the kingdom of God if used carefully, but it is a narrow path. Is this something we need to examine? How we control the use of this in our everyday lives? Absolutely.
How easy it is to waste hours on things that really do not matter, things that have no meaning in the light of eternity. If there is no guardedness to our time online, we will quickly find that the best hours of our day have been wasted in cyber-world rather than real life. So many Christian women say in all sincerity that they can’t seem to find time in the day to spend with the Lord in prayer and reading His wonderful Word, but seem to find plenty of time to keep up with Facebook, browse on Pinterest, and just be completely consumed by the social media world.
It’s all about priorities. If people only knew how refreshing it is to speak with the Lord, and to let Him speak into your life; He is the true source of strength and motivation! Not only that, but the Scripture speaks of time and how to use it. Ephesians 5:15-16 reads, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time ….” What does it mean to make “the best use of the time”? We cannot choose the amount of time we will have on this earth, but we do have a choice and a responsibility to manage the time that we do have and see that it is not wasted. The Bible says that even the small areas of our lives, like eating and drinking, should be done for His glory and not our own selfish pleasure (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Putting this into practice is more easily said than done, but let’s explore common pitfalls waiting for us in the online world and how we can apply God’s Truth to each one of these areas.
Idle Talk. “Idle” by definition means “without purpose or effect; pointless.” Much of the commentary on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and texting could fall into this category.
- 1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
- Matthew 12:36 Jesus says: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
- 2 Timothy 2:16 states, “But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness.”
- 1 Corinthians 10:23 says, “‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up.”
These are very sobering passages. We will not only give account for the evil we speak, but even the words we speak in carelessness. What we do say gives a message, but what we don’t say leaves a message also. I would encourage you, if you struggle with wasting time on pointless talk, or even don’t think it’s a problem in your life, to do a fast from it for a week. Give it up for one week and you may be surprised at how ingrained it has become in you to check your Facebook page … as well as everybody else’s!
I have chosen not to have Facebook at all, not because I don’t think it can be used wisely, but because I didn’t want the temptation in front of me. I know a little about myself and know how easily I could become obsessed with it. Cultivate real relationships, and cut out the shallow ones. Your 3,000 friends on Facebook probably won’t help you through hard times or call you up on the phone to see how you’re doing.
Wanting the Perfect Life. I put Pinterest under this category as well as certain blogs because they give us all the advice we would ever need to have the “perfect life.” Last year I heard about Pinterest, now a very popular sharing/saving tool online, and I had a lot of fun getting into it. I am somewhat of a perfectionist (in some things, anyway!) and loved seeing all the beautiful pictures and ideas on decorating, cleaning/organization, being healthy, how to get every bit of my life in order, and solve all my problems.
It never became an addiction, but it slowly began taking more and more of my time. I became more consistent to check it daily, aimlessly browsing even if I didn’t have a particular thing I was searching for; giving an unhealthy slice of my time to it each day. A principle that I have been using for Pinterest now is to not just simply browse, but to have a reason I am looking something up and then I actually must make time to use what I learned! What percentage of what you pin do you actually end up using? Are you actually going to try the 1,000+ pins you have saved? If not, why are you wasting your time?
If you’re using online time as a break, set a time limit, so you know how much time you’re spending, and don’t let it take over your life.
Creating a False Image. In cyber world, it’s easy to create a good “image” of yourself. Posting only the best pictures of yourself and your family, or even just giving the appearance of the perfect “Christian image,” is tempting. But what do our lives look like to those who live with us and see the real thing? Do you speak to your family of Christ’s goodness, or is your love for Jesus just shared online for others to see? Basically, does your talk match your walk? The biggest impact you can have on your children or anyone around you is the example they see of you firsthand: how you communicate, your way of living, your love, and what you devote your time to.
Live real life, not just in theory, but in practice. We need to take each thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and examine our hearts and motives for our conversations and the images we make of ourselves. Look to Christ alone for your source of confidence, security, and fulfillment and keep your eyes open to the innocent temptations of the online world. If you become consumed with how many “likes” you have or how many subscribers you have to your blogs; if social media or blogging have taken an idolatrous place in your life, I would encourage you to be willing to completely walk away from it for a season and focus on making Christ your first love, your all in all. Live the real life.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
Krista Tunby is a homeschool graduate who is passionate to know God’s Word and apply it to her life. She is involved with teaching children at church, helping with the family farm, giving piano lessons, and running her own gardening and salve businesses.