By Rachel Ware
I made a New Year’s Resolution this year to delete my Facebook account for the month of January.
Difficult? Embarrassingly, more than I expected.
I’ve never been crazy about Facebook. But, I am a product of my age. In college, I sought to convince our Dean of Students that our university should provide access to this up-and-coming website. Like many, I was excited about the novelty of looking up old friends and classmates and seeing what they were up to. I was surprised one day to find a news feed appear when I logged in but soon became accustomed to the constant stream of pictures, status updates, and information that made up the constantly shifting landscape of Facebook.
Facebook hit our culture like a tidal wave a decade ago. Its form of communication has significantly affected the way many of us talk, think, and plan. It has come so abruptly and so forcefully, we’ve hardly had a chance to stop and evaluate. But, as Hebrews 5:14 and Romans 12:2 indicate, the Christian has a responsibility not to simply consume what the world offers, but to discern by the Spirit what is good and what is evil.
The women at my church just finished a Bible Study on 2 Thessalonians. Full of complexities and practical advice, this little letter is a great one to soak in for a while. Towards the end of the book, Paul gives the following admonition:
“For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.” 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12
The word busybody stood out to me, and I recalled Paul using it in 1 Timothy, where he addresses a similar issue:
“But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry, and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander.” 1 Timothy 5:11-14
It is telling that in both places, Paul makes a connection between laziness and a lack of productivity with being a busybody and gossip. Wanting a more solid understanding of these words, “busybody” and “gossip,” I looked them up on blueletterbible.org. Here’s what I found.
“Busy about trifles and neglectful of important matters.
“Of persons uttering and doing silly things, garrulous, babbling; of things foolish, trifling, vain.”
To my surprise, the emphasis of these words is not on our traditional understanding of gossip, which is slandering someone’s reputation or speaking ill of them. Rather, it’s meddling in other’s affairs, caring too much about meaningless and trifling matters, busying oneself with unimportant things to the neglect of important things. In Paul’s day, women were tempted to do this by spending their time going from house to house, more interested in other’s affairs than in using their time wisely for the Kingdom. Today, we have the convenience of all the “house to house” activity coming straight to our MacBook.
Is Facebook then intrinsically evil? Of course not. Sin always originates in the human heart (James 1:14-15, Matthew 15:17-20). However, wisdom is found in knowing our own hearts and our own sinful predispositions, and avoiding those things which brings temptation. And the fruit of righteousness is found when we take the tough steps of obedience to remove that which keeps us from loving God with all of our hearts.
So what should we do? Take stock of the time you spend on acebook. Perhaps it’s very minimal and you only use it for important communication. Bravo! But if, like me, you end up scanning through your news feed multiple times a day, and even neglecting important matters because a few minutes on Facebook suddenly turns into 45, maybe it’s time for some reevaluating.
The truth is, there is plenty of work to be done. There are prayers to be prayed, discipleship relationships to be formed, unreached people groups to reach, meals to be cooked, elderly church members to love, husbands to serve, children to discipline, books to be read, elders to be encouraged, souls to be won, and good works to walk in. Let us busy ourselves with what is of eternal value and not allow the insatiable pull of trivial things to turn us into busybodies.
Rachel Ware currently resides in Louisville, KY. After graduating from Union University, she served in college ministry for 3 years and is now pursuing a Masters of Divinity in Christian Ministries at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is a member of Kenwood Baptist Church and spends any free time she can find exploring local restaurants and coffee shops around the city.
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