It’s not complicated: Don’t do the things that make you insecure, unhappy, or discontent. Do do the things that make you smarter, that make you better, that bring you joy, that bring you peace. For example, don’t feed your mind things that compound the lies you already believe about your body, your relationship status, or your life. Do spend time cultivating the fruit of the Spirit in your life and investing in healthy relationships with other Christians.
I used the word “lie” intentionally. The near-tragic reality is that the thought most likely first in our minds – or at least deepest in our minds – is a lie. We tend to have a default setting that tips south towards the untrue. We’ll call it “the fallen mind.” The fallen mind is coupled nicely with what we’ll call “the aggressive world”.
Do you consider yourself someone who believes the Scriptures are true? Well, consider what Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:12 – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Again, we’ll call it “the aggressive world,” which is easier to remember than “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” This means that you are being quite strategically attacked by a force, by powers who have everything but your good in mind. You must be alert, for “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
It’s not surprising, the abundance of lies. People make money off of them. Or at least they make money off of partial truths and managed information. And, as a rule, people will continue to do and make whatever makes them money, whatever the cost. 1 Timothy 6:10 goes as far as to say the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil, it causes wandering from the faith, and brings many griefs. Sounds about right.
My goal is twofold. First – to have you consider how you spend your time. Second – to have you long for an enriched heart.
Think of the last movie you saw that made you long for the friend, family, or partner you may not have. Think of the last advertisement that made you wish you had ______. Think of the last song you listened to, or article you skimmed online…the list goes on. I’ll raise you ten and have you think of the last Instagram you saw – did it make you wish you had a different closet or body? Did it make you wish you were better at lighting and editing candid shots? Did it make you wish _______? How real were those moments, scenes, or lyrics?
The world needs more men and women who dream, who create, who learn, who think, who search and question. The world is already full of so many who know too much about the Kardashians, Sportcenter, the Oscar red carpet, and video games. I am under no illusion that just because you might be reading Desiring God articles that you haven’t already spent more than your fair share of time on Facebook, Elle, ESPN, and the like (I am obviously writing from experience.)
But more than just curious thinkers, eager readers, learners, or adventurers, the world needs men and women of conviction. The world needs bold, anchored-in-truth men. The world needs secure, assured and unafraid women.
For a moment, let’s view time as food. Time spent is food eaten. What you spend your time doing, which is to say, what you eat, either makes you stronger or weaker. Not always immediately, but without a doubt over time. There are certainly moments at the table, fridge, or pantry when your decision has immediate effects either positively or negatively, but the overarching truth is that what you consistently eat has far-reaching consequences for both the near-future and the far-future.
This illustration could go on, but I will make the connection for you here: If you consistently spend your time aimlessly scrolling (“eating cereal”), it will not make you a more fit, healthy, interesting, engaging, thoughtful person, friend, husband, wife etc. In fact, it will do the opposite.
I want you to consider what you are feeding yourself.
You may be a regular guy or girl by your own definition, you may even be regular relative to the “accomplished” “intelligent” person at your office or from college. However, you alone have the capacity and absolute responsibility to live and work out every day you are given. Meaning, you are the only reason you are or are not who you want to be. And don’t worry, I am not about to get all self-help on you. I merely want you to thoughtfully consider everything you choose to do. Emphasis on everything and choose is intentional.
It’s not hard. Or at least, it shouldn’t be. The truth is easy to find if you're looking in the right place (see: the Bible), but it can still be hard to believe. And once believed, the truth can be even harder to remember and put into practice. You can thank “the fallen (forgetful) mind” for that. Consider it a war – consider it a war for you.
However hard it is, it can be simple: do what is good for your soul. I would never recommend listening entirely to your feelings, but they can be a helpful gauge in determining whether or not something is creating spiritual, emotional, or physical health or sickness. Simply put, do things that are good for your soul. Be curious about, and spend time on, things that make you better. Listen to music that inspires you, that lifts your spirits, that makes you think. Read books that teach you something, that tell stories worth knowing, that introduce you to people who left the world different than they found it. Better yet, read the Book that holds the words of God himself. Research a culture, people group, or moment in history you know nothing about. Spend your time discovering more than who-broke-what-sports-record and what-she-did-wore-ate today.
Truly, think about the time you spent today or this week on your phone scrolling. Then, don’t beat yourself up, but take note of a few things you wish you would have done, learned or seen instead. At the very least, take note of the reality that the same never-ending feed will be available tomorrow, and tomorrow you will still run the risk of finding yourself unchanged and increasingly discontent. Don’t hear me say sharing life, photos, and fun moments on social platforms is bad. That would be unfair and untrue. Hear me saying share, celebrate, “like” away, but don’t waste the moments given to you by wishing for something else.
Here’s to curiosity. Here’s to being committed that our generation will not be totally lost to our phones, the media, and the lies told by those who want our money and don’t care about our minds and hearts.
I submit to you the words of King David.
“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1-2)
Read God’s Word, and know His way.
“The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.”
“The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.”
“The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.”
“ The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”
“The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.”
“The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.”
“They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honey comb.By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”
Refreshment? Wisdom? Joy? Sweeter than honey? More precious than gold?
Need more ideas? Neither do I. Just start somewhere.