Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.Proverbs 4:23
Technology pervades every part of our lives.
If you go out to eat, there will inevitably be a TV in the room, the people at the tables around you are on their phones more than often than not, and every child either has a tablet or a cellphone to keep them occupied so they are quiet while they are out ‘eating’. This is a far cry from how many of us were brought up, but we can all fall into the trap of—well, I really just need to answer this email/text/phone call. Or maybe, you are discussing something that raises a question, and someone has to ‘google’ the answer so that there is no confusion.
Obviously, the Bible doesn’t really address technology in that we can’t search the Bible for the words ‘phone’, ‘tablet’, ‘computer’, ‘technology’, etc. However, there are verses that we can apply to the way we use technology.
To Use or Not to Use
There are those who would say we should not use technology, or we should limit its use as it is the devil’s handiwork. In 2 Chronicles 26:15, we read, “In Jerusalem, he (Uzziah) made machines, invented by skillful men”. This shows that God can use men to create machines that are used by godly people. Later, Uzziah became proud of his accomplishments and took a place that was not his, but at this time, he was following God’s purposes. In Exodus 31:2–5, we read about Bezalel who God said He had filled with the Spirit of God in wisdom and skill, in understanding and intelligence, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship. God gives men the ability to create and the creativity to come up with amazing ideas that can be used positively and negatively.
Just because God has given the wisdom and abilities to create technology doesn’t necessarily mean that all use of technology is acceptable. Colossians 3:17 tells us, “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus”. Also, in 1 Corinthians 10:31, we are reminded we should “do all to the glory of God”. When we are using technology, are we doing so in a way that will bring glory to God and can we say that what we are doing or using our devices for could be done in the name of the Lord Jesus? These are hard questions.
Often, one can find oneself in a boring meeting, or listening to someone droning on about their difficulties and pull a phone out of a pocket. It is hard to focus on something that is boring, or listen to someone who is not really that interesting, but what are we supposed to do? We should be paying attention in a meeting that we are being paid to go to. If someone is talking to us, they need to be heard. Focus is harder than it has ever been before, there are so many distractions on every hand. Philippians 4:13 reminds us that only through Christ do we have the strength to do those things that are difficult. If children cannot sit at a table with their family without a device to distract them, where did they learn this? The value of conversation is losing ground rapidly. People don’t talk to each other. They can text each other, or they can email, but conversing is becoming a lost art.
Another issue with technology and distraction is the ease with which one can get pulled into something one shouldn’t. There is evil and filth on the internet, and those are easier for us to see and avoid. How about something that distracts us and takes our time away from what we should be doing? Is this bringing glory to God or doing our jobs as we should? It is so very easy to do, one minute you are searching for the information you need and the next you are chasing rabbits on multiple trails. We are being distracted from our purpose. Our purpose is to glorify God.
Don’t get me wrong, I use my phone frequently, I am on my computer for work much of the day, but it should not take over our lives. We can use apps to read our Bibles, we can read devotionals online, but there is something special about having God’s Word in our hands and turning the pages. Yes, finding a verse we are looking for is much easier on a phone than with a concordance, but it is also easier to get distracted from the original search when suddenly a text you ‘must’ answer pops up.
There are three keys to the wise use of technology: understand, receive, and retain (hold it fast). From the story of the Sower, we see these three principles. Matthew 13:23 “As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the Word and understands it.” In Mark 4:20, “These are they which are sown on good ground, such as hear the Word and receive it”. Then in Luke 8:15 “As for that in good soil, they are those who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience”. We can all hear about how we should wisely use technology and understand it. We can even receive it—we acknowledge the importance of the wise use of it. But we must hold it fast or make it our own—with an honest and good heart. It is not enough to know the truth and acknowledge it, we must take it to heart and live it out.
We can only do this with the Lord’s help. “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13)