We all know that feeling . . . “You still watching?” pops up on the screen. THE NERVE. Yes, Netflix, we are in fact all still watching. Be it working out or napping, Postmates or UberEats, Facebook or the actual news, Disney plus, Hulu, and Netflix—how much is too much? None of those things are in and of themselves bad, but can too much of a good thing actually be a bad thing?
The Bible has a lot to say about this. 1 Corinthians 6:12 reads, “You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’—but not everything is good for you. And even though ‘I am allowed to do anything,’ I must not become a slave to anything.” It’s like Paul’s saying, “Hey, just because you can doesn’t mean you should, and even if it’s okay, it shouldn’t have you whipped.” But sometimes we feel trapped—like when just one more TikTok suddenly becomes one more hour, and then you’re dancing to that terrible Taylor Swift remix like a middle school girl. (Ya, we went there.)
So what do we do? How do we know when good things, or even neutral things, start to become a problem?
Here are three signs you’re heading downhill:
1. You can’t say no.
Proverbs 25:28 says, “A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.” If you can’t say no to one more insta story, you’re in trouble but not helpless!
The way you spend your time indicates what you value. Try setting a time limit on your phone or ask a friend to hold you accountable. Luke 17:3 says to pay attention to ourselves. . . Sorry. Actually, it says to “WATCH. YO. SELF.” Check it: “So watch yourselves! If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive.” What would it look like if your community group actually paid attention to how everyone in the group is spending their time and sent each other screen time reports?
2. They’re at the top of your priority list.
Snapchat and TikTok aren’t bad, but when they’re the first thing you look at in the morning and the last thing you check before bed, they’re probably an indication you’ve got a problem. One guy prays, “You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees!” (Psalm 119:4-5).
If you’re napping or even working out more consistently than you’re in God’s Word, you’ve gotta re-evaluate your priorities. That doesn’t mean working out is bad, and it definitely doesn’t mean rest is bad! Good things become bad things when we prioritize them over what God says is best.
If you find yourself prioritizing what started out as a seemingly good thing over God’s Word or God’s people, remind yourself of what is true.
Psalm 1:1-3 reads, “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.”
3. They cause your friends to stumble.
What’s okay for you might not be okay for your friends. Chances are you feel fine waqtching that move(lauuruuuuu) it could cause one of your friends’ thoughts to head in a sinful direction. Or maybe you’ve got room in the budget to eat out, but your roommate doesn’t. Are you pressuring them to spend money when they really shouldn’t be?
Romans 14 has a lot to say about how we can navigate the good or neutral things in a way that’s considerate of others. Even if it were to randomly come down to what we might view as a good food choice, Paul writes, “Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble” (Romans 14:20). Now obviously, Paul’s speaking into a culture that’s much different than ours. They’re talking about food—but they struggled with the same principle: can the things we think are good actually be bad? And what should we do if our friends call something we think is good, “bad?”
He says, “Let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall. You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right.
But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it.” (Romans 14:13,22-23). What’s good for you, might not be good for some of your closest friends. And if you’re not sure it’s good, you probably shouldn’t do it or watch it or play it.
In fact, the music you’re playing in your car might actually be encouraging your friends to sin. (That’s right—we’re talking to all of you who “hate” Cardi B’s newest song but somehow know all the words. And to be clear, we’re not calling that song good. Or even neutral. But you get the point.)
Ultimately ask yourself, “What’s my goal? Is it to see how much I can get away with or to honor God and my friends as I enjoy the things He has blessed me with?”