Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: MAIL (02/18/16)
TITLE: How to be Self-controlled in a Cyber World
By Nicki Jeffery
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Are you one of those people? Wherever you go; beeps, trills and whistles sound from your pocket or handbag. The latest pop ringtone blurts out of your iPhone in the doctor’s waiting room. A text message whistles its arrival as your hairdresser cuts your locks. Or worst of all, a loud beep interrupts your minister’s prayer in a quiet church congregation.
Is this obsession with communication a selfish, celebrity-like issue; or are you simply being relevant in a technological generation?
If you are like me, approaching your fifth or so decade on the planet, you remember the days when snail mail and telephones with cords were how we connected with others from a distance. You recall waiting until after seven pm to make an STD call. You wrote letters to friends and family members (even those who lived half an hour away). Computers were bulky and sat on large mahogany desks. They didn’t fit in the palm of your hand, ready to answer your every thought.
Oh for the farm days I enjoyed as a child! Riding my pushbike down dam banks. Swinging on a wooden board attached with rope to the haystack beam. Lying on my tummy in the long grass making daisy chains. We played tennis and splashed around in the backyard pool. We ate our meals without distractions. And we shared our lives face to face.
As an adult, what about having a cuppa with a friend without having to share the time with her iPhone? Lying in bed at night with your spouse without the luminosity of the iPad and endless scrolling through news and Facebook posts. When the first thought you had upon waking was reading your Bible, not checking your email.
Is it too easy now? Too easy to be addicted to technology because you are surrounded by it? Too easy to check emails and Facebook messenger half a dozen times a day because each view takes ten seconds? And too easy to miss the childhood of your children because you are distracted by your own beckoning cyber world? A world where you are famous, “liked”, commented on and shared.
I am annoyed at myself regularly. I spend too much time on things that don’t have eternal significance. I am guilty of scrolling through my Instagram news feed when my children are eating breakfast. I’m not always present mentally though I may appear to be.
So what can I do? Titus 1:8 NIV says, “Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.”
I can work on self-control, a fruit of the Spirit. I can discipline myself regarding my iPhone usage. I can turn my phone to silent or change my settings so I don’t hear the beeps, trills and whistles all day long. I can save scrolling until my children are having quiet time or sleeping. I can respond to the needs of friends when I have first met the needs of my own family. I can change.
And what about my need for affirmation? My celebrity-type status that I uphold on social media? Philippians 2:3-4 NIV says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
I believe our pocket computers are valuable and can be used to bring glory to God. I want to be sure to use mine that way, and take time to breathe fresh air and be free like I once was, before this extra temptation to become wrapped up in myself came along.
Tonight, when your kids are sleeping, can you encourage a friend with a brief message or Bible verse? Enjoy a devotion series on your “You Version” Bible app? Play a few turns on your “Words with Friends” games? And then leave your phone in the kitchen so you can spend quality time with your spouse.
Do not allow your devices to invade your life. Rather, be their master and permit them to enhance your life. Your spouse and children will thank you, and prayerfully, one day you will hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” Matthew 25:21 NKJV
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