Smart phones, as well as many other types of mobile electronics, have become useful for accomplishing many tasks. These tasks include communicating in many ways – with words, pictures, audio, video, and other formats. These devices are also useful for navigation (e.g. maps with GPS), accessing information, calculating, measuring, etc. Many tasks that required individual devices and mechanisms can now be completed by a phone set up with the appropriate apps. In addition, with so much information available through the internet with a phone, a person can easily get carried away when one subject of interest leads to other relevant information that is also found to be interesting. Consequently, parents, as well as other adults viewed as role models by children, often give a child or young person the impression, when they spend an excessive amount of time on their phone, that this is considered “normal”.
Considering these facts, we need to realize how important it is that parents do not let the use of their phones interfere with taking time to socialize with their children. The goal being that of edifying them and thus seeking their spiritual, as well as earthly, welfare. Mealtimes, family projects, vacations, and other group functions should not be negatively affected by the non-participation of family members who appear attached and addicted to their phones. These occasions should be used generously to teach exemplary and biblical priorities for living a life according to God’s Word. We should always be mindful of the divine instruction for parents found in Deuteronomy 6:4-7 as well as throughout the scriptures:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up”.
Adults should also be sensitive to the detrimental appearance of using their phone and other mobile electronics as entertainment devices. This misuse can give the impression of being obsessed with entertainment and amusement. Rev. G.H. Kersten wrote the following prior to World War II (The Night Visions of Zechariah, Chapter 40, page 203):
The…rich and the poor… all shouted loudly, ‘Let us eat and drink and be merry!’ The standard of living soared higher and higher. Entertainment and amusement were considered indispensable necessities of life. Church attendance decreased, and attendance at theaters, dance halls, and vanity fairs increased.
This description also applies to our times. Modern man generally practices a religion of having fun, and not delighting in God, who is the only true and lasting happiness for a rational human being. The amount and intensity of fun and thrill is the yardstick by which modern man measures the attractiveness and desirability of an activity. Today we have our modern media, distributed (and pushed) through the internet and mobile electronics. These devices are often used to gratify the passion and obsession for entertainment and fun. Sadly, however, it seems that there is rarely anyone who heeds Christ’s declaration in John 17:3, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” Without the knowledge referred to here, there is no true, lasting happiness and pleasure. How important it is that we realize the folly of gratifying ourselves with the short-lived and temporary pleasures of this perishing world! During the first century, the apostle Paul wrote something still applicable to us today, even with all of the social, political, and technological changes that have occurred since his time. He wrote:
“But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away” (I Cor. 7:29-31).
By nature, our desires and priorities are evil. In light of the scriptural declaration that man is “dead in trespasses and sin” (Eph. 2:1), and that the “carnal mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7), this evil should not surprise us. This fact shows how necessary it is that the Holy Spirit works a spiritual rebirth in each of our hearts. Without this rebirth, our desires and priorities, including those religious in nature, are not right or acceptable in God’s eyes but are “found wanting [lacking]”.
Starting with the spiritual rebirth, the Holy Spirit leads a person into the truth: the truth of our deep fall, of our actual sins including the sins of our best deeds, and of the righteousness and the offended justice of God the Father. The Father draws the sinner unto Christ, without which no man will truly come unto the Savior (John 6:44). When the sinner is found in Christ, the Father’s sword of justice can be put into its sheath and he can behold the Father’s reconciled face.
Let us not rest until we have experienced what David, the man after God’s own heart, knew when he wrote in Psalm 16:11, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” The priorities in life of those that possess this desire of David will be clear and will include a discreet usage of mobile devices including phones. A modern phone can be a wonderful servant, but a poor and evil master.