Silencing That Screaming Screen
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV)
Tumbling out of bed, I headed to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, hoping it might snap the sleepy out of my brain. I glanced down at my phone next to the coffee maker where I’d plugged it in the night before. I’d begun banishing my phone from the bedroom so it couldn’t tempt me to tap, swipe and scroll instead of falling asleep at a decent hour.
About a dozen or more notifications began their usual morning dance, gliding down from the top of my screen. A few social media followers liked my recent post about my butternut squash soup. There was a news alert from a local television station about an upcoming visit from a well-known celebrity. Five new emails were in my inbox from companies I’d previously purchased from, alerting me to new sales on their products.
This montage of messages screaming at me through the screen threatened to derail my day before it had barely started.
I have an ongoing quandary with my phone. It certainly can be a useful tool — housing my calendar, grocery list and an online banking app. But often it seems my phone becomes the boss of me. If I am not intentional to keep it in check, it can quickly become a tangent. It beeps, dings and buzzes, tempting me to pick it up once again as I lose precious time that could be spent tackling the tasks of the day.
Ephesians 5:15-17 urges us to “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” To help us extrapolate the instructions God is giving us about managing our time, let’s look at the original Greek meaning of a few key words and phrases.
The Greek word for “walk” is peripateó. More than placing one foot in front of the other, it literally means “to conduct your life properly.” And how are we to walk? Carefully. The deeper Greek meaning of “carefully” in this verse is “accurately, diligently and circumspectly.” That final word isn’t commonly used. It means “to fully investigate all circumstances and possible outcomes.”
We are also instructed to make the best use of our time. This Greek phrase conveys the concept of redeeming from loss by making the most of the present opportunity. We are to be proactive and intentional in filling our time.
That can be difficult when our phone provides an ongoing digital distraction. Checking it too often prevents us from the important tasks we have at work and home. It may even keep us from connecting relationally with someone who might need an encouraging word from us, or keep us from connecting with someone God placed in our path to give us encouragement or wisdom.
If you have the same phone struggle as I do, perhaps it’s time for us to set some boundaries. It may be as simple as leaving the phone in another room overnight or turning it off after a certain hour each day. Or it may require something more drastic like turning off all notifications, or even deleting social media apps and only hopping on those sites when we’re in front of our computer. These actions can help us cut down on distractions and carefully navigate our days by doing what God’s called us to do: making the best use of our time.
Let’s take our days to the Lord in prayer, asking Him to help us choose prudently how we interact with our phones, using them as tools rather than allowing them to morph into tangents. He will enable us to spend our time in a way that honors Him as He teaches us what it means to walk wisely.
Father, help me to redeem the time, discerning how You want me to spend my hours each day. I want my actions to honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Psalm 31:15a, “My times are in your hands; …”
In what ways is your phone distracting you each day? What is one action step you can take to help you make the most of your time?