“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
– Colossians 3:2
A beautiful young woman, set-apart and passionate for the Gospel, recently confessed to me, “I spend more time on Facebook than I do in prayer or studying the Word of God.”
Thatʼs the sad reality most of us are living in.
God has entrusted us with the precious gift of time. Twenty four hours in every day; seven days in a week; every day significant, every hour important, every moment of value to God. Yet how of those many moments are truly being used for His glory? If we are honest, many of us would have to admit that though we profess Jesus Christ to be our highest priority, our lives proclaim something quite different.
A few years ago, Eric and I made an unusual decision—to stop spending our “down time” watching movies or television and instead spend those hours seeking God in prayer. I know that sounds like exchanging a first-class Caribbean cruise for a year in prison labor camp. But ironically, itʼs been the other way around. This step of “pouring out our priceless perfume upon Christ” has led to the most exhilarating season we have ever known. Jesus is more real and intimate to us than He has ever been. His Word is more powerful and living to us than it ever has been. Prayer is being heard and miraculously answered like never before. Spending an hour in the presence of God is more refreshing and renewing to me than any Hollywood “mind escape” could ever be.
Itʼs easy to think of our time, especially our free time, as belonging to us; that itʼs our right to do what we feel like doing in those “down” moments of the day. But when we come to Christ, we are to lay everything at His feet, including our time. As Leonard Ravenhill said, “What does it mean to be a Christian? Your life is hid with Christ. You have no time of your own, no money of your own; Christ must become your complete Master.”
God has continued to challenge me with this statement—down to the very details of how I spend each moment of the day. And I have discovered that when we lay every-thing at the feet of Jesus and find our deepest fulfillment, rest, peace, strength, and joy in His presence alone, not dulling our spiritual life with worldly counterfeits, we are ushered into the supernatural, superhuman existence in which God designed us to live. Thatʼs when the presence of God draws near. Thatʼs when our prayers are heard and answered. Thatʼs when the life we read about in Scripture actually becomes our reality.
Most of us constantly battle with the fact that God is distant, intimacy with Christ is difficult to obtain, and our prayers donʼt seem to be heard. But God says, “…you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13).
Todayʼs young women arenʼt finding Him because we arenʼt searching for Him with all our hearts. We are too preoccupied with checking Facebook, watching reality shows, downloading the latest songs on iTunes, and being enamored with Hollywoodʼs newest production to let our whole being be poured forth in constant and unreserved devotion in the service of the Lord who died to save us.
Most of us feel we donʼt have enough time for prayer and seeking God. But we donʼt even consider giving up our nightly TV time, our weekend movie fests, or our iTunes fetish in exchange for spending time in His presence.
Whether we spend our best hours socializing on Facebook, texting about trivialities, rushing to the latest Twilight movie, or vegging in front of the newest reality TV show—the majority of our time is being given to things that are not of eternal value; and often, things that are downright dangerous to our souls. Most of us are far more influenced by pop culture than we are by the Word of God. We can quote our favorite lines from 100 different chick flicks, but the only Scripture we know is John 3:16.
Itʼs no wonder that Christ feels distant.
Only when we are willing to give Him the best hours of our day – rather than whatever is left after we have wasted most of our time on selfish pleasures – will we truly experience vibrant intimacy with our Heavenly King.
Tozer wrote, “The man who would know God must give time to Him.” Knowing our King is not a complicated formula; itʼs simply giving the best hours of our day to the pursuit of Him.
If you hunger for true intimacy with Jesus Christ; if you desire to live truly for His glory, then you must surrender your time to Him. Not just in theory, but every moment of every day, no longer living for your own pursuits and whims, but for His glory alone.
Time Waster #1 – Facebook
Facebook itself is not an evil thing. But if itʼs not put in its proper place, it can quickly become an unhealthy addiction in your life; robbing precious time, distracting you from Christ, and putting your mind on the things of this world.
Theoretically, Facebook is a practical way to connect with friends, edify them spiritually, send them sweet thoughts, and get the word out about important happenings. But in my experience, I have found that the majority of “set apart” young women on Facebook are using it as an excuse to dwell on shallow, worldly, fleshly, self-built actives; things like online flirting, chatting about trivial things, stroking their ego, and meditating upon pop-culture.
The biggest danger of Facebook is how quickly it can eat away your precious time. You sit down at your laptop to send a quick message, and then three hours later you are still lost within the endless network of cyber-socializing. And what were you doing in those three hours? If you are honest, you may find that very little of it had any eternal value whatsoever.
Those were three hours that could have been used for far better things. Prayer. Studying Godʼs Word. Journaling His work in your life. Serving someone in need. But there is no room for those edifying actives when our best hours are spent on meaningless, trivial things.
Just because there might a few redeeming qualities about Facebook does not warrant letting it eat up all our precious time. Remember – itʼs not our time, anyway, but Godʼs. And if Jesus would not spend his time cyber-socializing, why should we?
Re-thinking Facebook Time
If time on Facebook has be-come an unhealthy addiction in your life (meaning you canʼt imagine letting it go) prayerfully ask God for the grace to walk away, at least for a season, until He truly has first place in your heart and your best hours are being spent on Him. Recruit an accountability partner if necessary. Remember, nothing is worth jeopardizing your relationship with the Lord who died to save You, and no offering is too extreme when laid at His feet out of a heart of love and devotion to Him!
If Facebook isnʼt necessarily an addiction for you; but has become a time-waster in your life, consider the following practical ideas for putting it in its proper place:
1. Use Facebook sparingly. Check your account only once a week and only spend 30-45 on the network. Have a timer set so that you donʼt go over the allotted time, or better yet, an accountability partner who will sit there with you, and remind you to stick to your commitment. Sure, you might miss out on some of the buzz, but your time will be given to things that are Godʼs heart, not merely the latest gossip or interesting news.
2. Donʼt become Facebook friends with people that you donʼt know well, or people who are shallow and worldly and just looking to build up their social status. Stick to connecting with true godly friends who will point you closer to Jesus Christ and leave the shallow relationships alone. Sure, you can try to be a good Christian influence on secular peers, but online socializing is not a good witnessing platform. Non-Christians (or shallow Christians) need to see a poured-out life fully devoted to Jesus Christ, not just a spiritual cyber-personality.
3. Be watchful of what you read and post on Facebook. Ridiculous quizzes about which Hollywood celebrity you would like to be, discussions about the latest Twilight movie or books, or gossipy banter about “hot guys” will not edify your spirit, but will pull you into the things of the world. Make your goal that everything you read or post on Facebook will bring glory to Jesus Christ – and if it doesn’t, leave it alone.
4. Donʼt use Facebook as a way to stroke your own ego. Avoid posting “glamour shots” of yourself in a bathing suit (sadly, many “set-apart girls” do this!) or posting many pictures of yourself at all. Donʼt make your Facebook page an “all about me” extravaganza; rather, use stories and testimonies about what God has done in your life to encourage others. Post Scriptures that have changed your life, or stories about great Christians that have inspired you. Encourage others to pray for the lost or for those in great need around the world (like orphans).
5. When it doubt, leave it alone! Believe it or not, Facebook is something that you can live without. I have yet to use Facebook even once, and I honestly think my life is better for it. It frees up my time for the things in my life that really matter; investing into my marriage and children, cultivating my relationship with Jesus Christ, and ministering to the needs of others. Often the things that we think we canʼt live without are the very things that are holding us back from living the life God has called us to.
Next issue, we will tackle more of the time-wasters that constantly dangle temptation in front of us. As you prayerfully consider this area of your life, Iʼd like to challenge you with this powerful statement from Amy Carmichael:
We often ask the question, “what is the harm of it?” – about reading certain books, following certain pursuits, taking our recreation in certain ways. What is the harm of the latest novel, even if it happens to be rather unprofitable? And we (who have not the time to read one out of a thousand of the real books that have been written) spend a precious hour by deliberate choice over something not worthwhile. Ours should not be the love that asks, “how little?” but “how much?”; the love that pours out its all and revels in the joy of having anything to pour on the feet of its Beloved. The question “what is the harm?” falls from us and is forgotten when we see Calvary, the Crucified, the risen-again Rabboni of our souls! (from God’s Missionary by Amy Carmichael).
Jesus Christ gave everything for us. Are we not willing to give Him everything in return, including the precious gift of our time? Truly, He is worthy.*