Tool, Toy or Tangent?
"My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me." Psalm 31:15 (NIV 1984)
I have a love/hate relationship with social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest...
I love that it keeps me connected to family and friends. It allows me to spy on ... er ... keep up with my kids, and I can post a prayer request when accidents or sickness occur. And I love re-connecting with friends from my past.
But I hate the way, if left unchecked and without boundaries in place, social media can become a ginormous black hole, eating up time and energy while diverting my attention from what's most important.
As a guideline I have learned to ask myself, is this a tool, a toy, or a tangent?
The Internet in general is a fabulous tool. It can be used for God and for good—organizing meals for a hurting family or participating in an online Bible study. But it can also be used for bad—cyber-bullying, extramarital affairs and airing our frustrations about other people.
It can also be a toy.
Nothing wrong with toys. We all need a little fun and relaxation. And if we enjoy playing games online that's great. What crosses the line is when any online activity becomes a tangent: a sudden diversion that takes us off track from our priorities and responsibilities.
Tangents torch our time, sap our strength and can cause us to ignore loved ones. Tangents give us a false sense of being productive, doing something. When in reality, we aren't accomplishing anything. Then we feel frustrated, defeated and even guilty when we realize how much time we've wasted.
In today's key verse, the psalmist placed his time in God's hands and asked for deliverance from his enemies. Although he was speaking of physical enemies who could do him harm, we need to realize our tools, toys and tangents can harm us, too.
I've had my own tangents that led me off track and caused me to neglect my family and household responsibilities. And both of these situations made me feel like a failure.
Maybe you have too. Today let's prayerfully and carefully (with all honesty) ask ourselves while spending time online, "Is this a tool, a toy, or a tangent?" By doing this and setting healthy boundaries, we can overcome the enemy of defeat and eliminate frustration. We can free up time for the important relationships and tasks God has for us and live our lives in a meaningful, not frivolous, way.
Dear Lord, teach me to use my time wisely, in a way that honors You and doesn't get derailed by tangents. I want to be efficient and effective for Your Kingdom's work. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
What things in your life can morph from a tool to a toy, or perhaps even become a tangent?
How can you tell when you are wasting time on a tangent? When you sense this is happening, what should you do?
Ecclesiastes 8:5, "Whoever keeps a command will know no evil thing, and the wise heart will know the proper time and the just way." (ESV)
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