A time may come soon, said he, when none will return. Then there will be need of valor without renown, for none shall remember the deeds that are done in the last defense of your homes. Yet the deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised. ~Aragorn, Lord of the Rings
Over a year and a half ago, I deleted my Facebook account, which I had created for a writing mentorship. I kept Instagram and followed along, sharing quotes and Scriptures and links to my weekly writings.
It was a slow fade, but soon I had a check in my spirit about the increasing minutes I spent scrolling. One quick glance always seemed to morph into another. Harmless fluff and fairytales. More often than not it led to random paths, not soul food. I would glance at the clock and wonder: where did that thirty minutes go?
So this prompting to quit Instagram simmered, an urge I squelched for a time. (Quenching the Holy Spirit is the proper terminology, I do believe. )
But I am not nearly as active as most people, I whispered as I patted my own back.
A pathetic excuse and certainly a poor gauge, if ever there was one.
And then one bright morning I paused, lingering over the words found in 1 Thessalonians 4:11, a Scripture which I have now considered for months.
Here are two translations:
…aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you. (ESV)
…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you.(NASB)
I pieced together a lengthy post, gathering a page full of alarming statistics and data regarding social media and its stunning impact upon the human mind. I researched this and studied that but have chosen to scrap it. Those are serious facts that you may research for yourself.
I think we are perfectly capable of understanding 1 Thessalonians 4:11. We each have work to do in these post-Eden-pre-New Earth times. A string of days until we are perfected. Let us aspire to do so quietly, while minding our own business.
That word aspire insinuates effort and intentionality, doesn’t it? Merriam-Webster defines it as such:
- to seek to attain or accomplish a particular goal.
- ascend, soar
In this context, both definitions seem appropriate. We must seek to live quietly, minding our own affairs, working with our hands. This very act, aimed at pleasing God is to ascend beyond the world’s ideals. We are to be heavenly-minded, obedient to God through his Word.
As Christ-followers, we are also instructed to pursue holiness. (1 Peter 1:16, Leviticus 11:45) Flesh and blood set apart. This is a command, not a sweet suggestion to whimsically pick up, toy around with, and toss away if we find it uncomfortable.
The path of sanctification is never passive. We will never stumble and trip into holiness. If we do not aspire to quiet lives, we will fall headlong into the wrong mold, devoured by worldly pursuits.
A few weeks ago, our family stayed in the mountains, celebrating our son’s wedding. As we rocked peacefully in outdoor chairs, we bore witness to a handsome sunset as it dropped over the peaks. As night fell, sparkling stars filled the wide sky. We sat, hushed in the tranquil, chilly, pitch of night.
And then, someone suggested turning off the lights inside of the house. They are polluting the skies.
So we flicked the switches and returned to the outdoor rockers. I thought: This will make zero difference.
Goodness, I was wrong.
That negligible amount of light had dimmed our eyes to the true splendor before us.
Suddenly, suddenly, the stars were crisp, alive, and bright. They twinkled against the inky backdrop.
The difference was remarkable.
I grasped that the stars had not changed one bit. Our choice to turn off other, lesser lights simply cleared our vision, removed all distractions, and ushered in reality.
We could now see, in full grandeur, God’s handiwork.
This is a consummate picture of what turning off social media has done for me. My downward gaze has shifted upward. Studying the skies without the artificial lamplight of social media has jolted my soul to deeper things of God, inviting a sharper, crisper, view.
I believe a robust doctrine of who God is and what he requires of us must be studied, turned over, contemplated for long periods of time, and most importantly obeyed. His sovereignty is mysteriously interwoven with our personal choices to go deeper into fellowship with him (or not) by guarding what we permit into our minds, hearts, souls, and homes.
You will not be high fived for these actions, but you will certainly be questioned, and perhaps even criticized. Never mind. The deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised.
I have been delighted to discover that the closer I draw to God, the less I want of the world.
My soul’s deepest cry?
To be well with God.
So my questions for you are simple. Ones that I have asked of myself. (And yes, your answers might differ from mine.)
Is your participation in social media growing you in personal holiness?
Does social media invite gossip into your life?
Does your social media consumption prompt you to lead a quieter life while using your hands to serve your family well?
Does social media aid you in being fully present with real people?
Does social media push you further into the magnificent depths of Scripture?
Does social media awaken your mind and stir your affections for the things of God?
I cannot speak for anyone else, but my honest answers were clear.
I deleted my account.
Aragorn (or J.R.R. Tolkien, as it goes) nailed it. We are in dark days, and must be willing to stand in the gap as the last defense of our homes. Satan is alive and crafty and against you. He will use all kinds of things to distract you from examining your own soul. One way is to encourage nosiness and gossip by way of social media.
There is nothing new under the sun, (Ecclesiastes 1:9) and busybody activities were a problem even in Bible times. In fact, Peter lumps meddlesome people in with murderers and thieves. (1 Peter 4:15) Serious, serious admonitions.
Those with idle hands are more apt to warble a destructive song called gossip, which rips and tears and maims, causing division and tumult and utter destruction amongst friends, families, and churches. (Psalm 101:5, James 1:26, Proverbs 21:23) It is the exact opposite of living a quiet life before God.
Perhaps you are not a busybody but find yourself more captivated with, well, you. It has never been easier or more permissible to build a platform of self. Yet Proverbs 27:2 is clear: Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.
I guess the hard question is this: Are you willing to extinguish anything that threatens intimacy with and obedience to God? Do you long to slay those pursuits that might lead you into a state of wandering complacency, utterly dulled to the realities of the riches of Christ?
I invite you, fellow pilgrim. On a journey to aspire to live quiet, contented lives, working with our hands, as we are being made holy.
Social media is only one element in this life that can become a disruptor, a thief of time, of Bible Study, of deep thinking, of serious reading, of contentment, of conversation, of genuine connectedness, and of minding one’s own beeswax, as they say. But it is a gigantic element.
I know that I am expected to say that social media can be very, very, good, and quite useful if used properly. And perhaps that is true. But personally, I have yet to see such golden threads in myself or anyone else.
I am observing a whole lot more of My kingdom come, rather than Thy kingdom come.
This world is a noisy and distracted place, isn’t it?
I might be stepping on toes here, but that is fine–mine have already been crunched. The world won’t understand (nor will it care one whit after about twenty-four hours have passed) if you choose to exit social media. But does that in itself even matter?
Consider giving it a try, deleting the apps and replacing those scrolling moments with nobler pursuits.
Your deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised.
Forget to bring your phone and step outside. Look up, and revel in the swirling beauties of nature without having to post about it. Walk your dog. Wave to a neighbor. Pray for softened hearts in your home, neighborhood, and church. Grab a coffee with your spouse or children or grandchildren. Tell a joke. Laugh until you cry. Read a short story. Write a note of encouragement. Sink deep into Scripture and happily wonder just where the time has gone.
This, this is living.
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