One lazy summer weekday morning as I lounged in my bedroom, scrolling through endless Facebook posts about the thrilling adventures of all my friends, I experienced a sudden burst of motivation.
I am wasting so much time on Facebook, I thought. I ought to fast from it for a while.
And just like that, I posted a status boldly proclaiming that for the rest of the month of June (about 2 weeks), I was going to stay logged off of Facebook so I could enjoy the valuable time I have in these precious, warm summer months – time to spend with family, read more, and grow with the Lord. If friends needed to get in contact with me, they could text, call, or email. But no more of this silly Facebook scrolling habit. I resolutely deleted the app and closed the window. Once I was logged off, it slowly dawned on me that I had little other reason to be on my computer, so I turned it off and read a book instead. I read my Bible before going to sleep that night (not a consistent occurrence, I must admit ashamedly), I slept wonderfully that night, and woke up feeling great about my life.
That afternoon, I slyly logged back on to see what I’d missed in the past 18 hours. I logged off before anyone could catch the little green dot beside my name and hold me accountable.
A few days later, I popped back in, just to “check” in case I’d missed anything important and groundbreaking. (I didn’t.)
Then, this very Sunday afternoon, I was tired and unmotivated, so I threw my cares to the wind and scrolled through that News Feed to my heart’s content — wasting plenty of time I could have spent writing my impending online class essay and ignoring the forgotten promise I had made to myself.
(Side note: If you’ve read my blog before, you may have noticed my shameless honesty at times. I want you to know that I admit my weaknesses publicly not to subject myself to judgment or put myself down, but so that you may see that you are not alone in such weakness, and I am not writing from a lofty, perfect standpoint – and so that we can change together.)
My boyfriend James got online just as I was beginning to aimlessly scroll through the profile pictures of friends of friends. As a quality boyfriend does, he messaged me and instructed me that because he loved me, he had to ask me to keep my promise and log off. I whined at his accountability and told him it was fine and it didn’t matter (like the mature adult that I am).
He explained to me why it was so important to him that I kept that commitment I’d made in that resolute status the previous week. He said (I’ll paraphrase since I’m now logged off) that if I could keep this commitment, my integrity would prove that I could keep other, bigger commitments – for example, our commitment to physical purity with each other, or our commitment to faithfulness to each other.
You see, he reminded me of something that I already knew: if we are faithful in the small things, God will entrust us with greater responsibilities. If I can prove my integrity and commitment in a two-week promise about one website, I can display integrity in more trying circumstances and show enduring commitment consistently.
I am reminded of the parable of the dishonest manager in Luke 16. Granted, this story is about financial responsibility, but the theme rings true in any area of life. Verse 10 says, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” The passage ends with verse 13, which says, “You cannot serve God and money.” (ESV)
Money enslaves us. Time-wasters enslave us. Harmful sins enslave us. And even legalistic Christian laws and rules enslave us.
“So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.” Romans 7:25 (HCSB)
I am called to be a slave to the law of God. And the law of God brings to light how inadequate I am to fulfill the law of God, making me all the more dependent on His grace. I am no longer dependent on that sinful nature which would distract me from Him on whose grace I must fix my sights.
But daily my flesh fights against it. I am enslaved and captured by distractions, by inconsistencies, by anything and everything that keeps me from growing closer to the Lord. If I cannot set aside my time spent frivolously on Facebook to spend instead on things that will grow my relationship with the Lord, where else do I lack such discipline? If I waste that kind of time, am I filling other time in which God wants to speak to me?
A frightening thought occurred to me as I climbed into the car after that Facebook conversation with James.
Do not the things to which we commit ourselves and dedicate our time and attention show where our heart’s priorities are?
Matthew 6:21: “Where your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (NLT)
I began to wonder which things in my life exhibit consistency. The list consisted of things like beautifying my appearance in the morning with hair and makeup and checking Facebook. Every day, without fail, I can count on these selfish ambitions. These are the desires of my heart when I wake up each morning? He saved a wretch like me… These priorities display what a selfish heart I have.
Then I mentally listed things in which I lack consistency. Quiet times, exercise, prayer… A list of which I am not proud. I admit with shame that I can often be hypocritical in my walk with God – I tout the importance of a daily quiet time and faithful prayer, but how often do I blink and see that the date of my last prayer journal entry is two weeks ago, or that I’m another week behind in my Bible reading? These are the things I ought to do not to keep a legalistic checklist, but to grow in intimacy with the Lord of all creation. When these relationship-building things are not the desires of my heart, then my treasure is not rooted in intimacy with my Savior, in maintenance of the temple of my body that He has given me, or in serving and loving those around me by praying for them.
Jim Eliot, before he was killed on the mission field, said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Physical appearances, attention from others, and worldly assets slip away like a quiet breeze.
Intimacy with the Lord, joy in His presence, the act of living a life that makes Him known – these things last into eternity.
So these thoughts beg a serious question.
Ought I to serve God and myself? Or dare I serve God and nothing – and no one – else?