Before I share today’s post, I need to preface it. The most read post on this blog hands down times 1000 is A Letter to My Sons, The Real Reason I Say No to Electronics. Having been read millions of times, this post showed me something. That our family is not alone! We are actually surrounded by thousands and thousands of families just like us. Families who value time and true, authentic relationship. Who want to make the most of the fleeting moments we have and realize how this digital age has the power to suck the moments away before we know what’s happened.
That being said, we’ve always known that there would come a time when our boys would begin to interact more in the electronic world and we would face new challenges. Our middle son saved his money for a year in order to purchase his own iPod touch. I’m grateful for all the years leading up to this point of laying the foundation.
Zachary asked us to give him rules and boundaries. The thing he has learned about himself is how easily he is sucked into the grips of a device. Of course we planned to give very firm and clear boundaries, but I found it interesting he recognized his need.
Before giving him the new family rules, I wrote him this letter because really, rules are pointless if he misses this point.
You asked me to give you boundaries, rules, and guidelines for using your new iPod touch. Before you asked me that, I planned to give you clear boundaries, but the fact that you recognize your need for them shows me you are mature enough to begin to enter a world I would keep you from forever if I could. But I can’t because this is the world we live in.
Before I give you the rules for using your device, I want you to understand something else. You can have rules, you can be dedicated to keeping the rules, you can try harder to keep the rules than you’ve ever tried in your life, but without self control and discipline, you will fail miserably at keeping the rules.
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12
Rules without self control are nothing more than bait to failure. The rules will mock you and pressure you. They will torment you and tempt you to give in. The rules will wear a mask of protection, but they will whisper to you that a little longer isn’t a big deal. Or looking at this is no big deal. Or playing one more round just this one time won’t hurt anything.
In our own strength, we are powerless. We are weak. If we convince ourselves that we are strong enough to face temptation on our own, we are fools.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
The first “rule” I want to give you is this. Admit you are weak. Admit that you are not strong enough to hold a temptation in your hands that has a power you underestimate. When you admit you are weak, submit to God’s leading, ask for His strength. Understand that this device and this connected world has the power to enslave you. You will need wisdom, strength, and self-control. These come from God alone, they do not come from within you.
The real “rules” you need to own a device:
- Recognize your human weakness to face temptation apart from God. It’s easy to look around at the world and see everyone owns a device and think, “What’s the big deal.” That is what the enemy wants you to think. What you hold in your hand can be used for good or evil. Understand its power and seek God’s strength. You will be faced with temptation repeatedly.
- Know yourself. Know your personal weak spots and temptations. Pray for God to guard you from temptation. To give you the strength to face temptation and flee.
- Guard your eyes. What you allow in with your eyes finds a path to your heart. Protect your heart. Guard it closely. Allow nothing in that would seek to separate you from God or bind you with shame.
- Understand that “life” through a device is not life at all. It’s not true life. Texting and interacting with friends online may be fun, but life was designed to be fully lived together with each other. Don’t replace real relationship with a counterfeit offering.
- It’s all about self control. And you can’t create your own self control. Try it for any amount of time, and you will quickly realize just how powerless you truly are. Self control must be practiced. Ask God to give you extra doses of self control. Practice it in all areas of your life. When you practice self control in all areas, it just gets easier.
Zachary, it’s really all about denying yourself. You see when you have that device in your hand, you will gratify your own desires. Repeatedly. The more you gratify your own desires, the harder it is to follow Jesus. This is why self control is the most important “rule” I can give to you.
It’s more than a device. It’s more than electronics. It goes to a deeper spiritual level than you yet know. So know this, ask God for self control. Ask Him to help you turn from your own desires and selfish ways so you can follow Him.
Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.
I know you asked for rules. And those are coming, but before we focus on the rules, I want to give you something of greater value. Something with true power. Something that will give you what you need to keep the rules with joy.
5 verses to pray for self control to navigate the electronic world you are entering.
- Proverbs 25:28 A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.
- 2 Timothy 1:7 For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
- Titus 1:8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.
- Titus 2:12 Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
- 1 Peter 4:7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
I love you, and I know that with God guiding you, you will navigate this new territory with wisdom and strength. Remember, it goes deeper than what you realize. I’m cheering you on as God grows you in new areas to learn to trust Him and rely on Him to strengthen your faith.
To follow Jesus in big ways, He sometimes starts us in small areas. Follow Him each time you pick up that device. Guard your eyes and your heart, pray for self control and strength. Choose wisdom over foolishness.
With all my love,
Zachary chose to have a verse inscribed on his iPod. “I can do all things through Christ.” I don’t believe in coincidence. God knows this is the reminder he will need each time he picks up that device. With Christ we have the power to do anything.
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