“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” 1 Corinthians 10:23.
Even if something is lawful, we are not to let anything bind us. For me there have been a lot of different interests, like music and video games and things like that, that have taken much of my time and a lot of my thoughts as well. There was a period where all my thoughts revolved around this and I had no thoughts left over for God.
I had to find out myself what I had the freedom to do and how to use my time.
Bound by ordinary things
It wasn’t so easy to see how much I was actually bound.
When I look back then I see that things that are quite trivial or normal, like checking Facebook or Instagram, had a certain power over me. I felt compelled to check Facebook. There’s nothing necessarily bad with Facebook itself, but for me it had become a habit and before I went to bed or as soon as I woke up then I would have to check it. I would just have to. It was like a compulsion.
Take video games as another example. A lot of people are free to relax and play video games now and then but I know that personally I can’t do that whenever I like. I have to be very conscious about the danger of all my thoughts becoming consumed by that and stolen away from God. It’s not that I constantly have to be thinking about God but the danger was that I no longer even felt that I needed God, in a way.
Video games and social media aren’t necessarily bad in themselves. But they shifted my priorities away from living a Christian life, away from God. My world and interests revolved around my own will and my hobbies and I didn’t need anything else. I saw things like reading God’s word or doing something good for others as obstacles rather than the help they would have provided me with. My thoughts were so wrapped up in my own interests that I didn’t see how wretched and far away from God I was; I became content with myself, with no desire to grow in spiritual virtues.
When all my thoughts were only focused on my own interests and hobbies, then I did not have victory over sin and it felt like victory was incredibly difficult. But when I think about it, it wasn’t strange at all that I did not have victory.
For a long time I was in denial. I had to humble myself and God really had to show me my own weakness for me to realize that my priorities were completely backwards. I had to learn that I was not free to check Facebook and I was not free to play video games at this point in my life. These things had power over me.
I got light over this and began to work actively to give my thoughts to God. To fill myself with His Word.
What should I use my time for?
As Christians we go through battles every day. We are tempted in the trials that come our way and it takes a fight to get victory over the sin that dwells in us. I think of my time between trials as a time for preparation. I can sit down and read God’s Word – it’s a preparation for battle. I needed to use that time to read God’s Word and to fill myself with a good spirit so that I was ready to fight. (Psalm 119:9)
It’s important for each individual to find out for themselves what they are free to use their time for and what they should be doing. It was important for me to find out. Of course, I can’t always be reading my Bible, but I am always conscious that whatever I do, I do it in a good spirit.
It’s not natural for anyone to constantly read God’s Word. I don’t even think that’s healthy. We live our lives and we are with other people and we have things to do. But if I am not reading God’s Word then I still have God’s interests at heart. I am conscious of the fact that I am to live the life of a disciple.
The difference in my life
I actually don’t have the strength or motivation in myself to live wholly for God. It can often be tough or difficult and I don’t feel like, “Yeah! Now I’m going to bless the others,” or, “Now I’m going to read a verse and it will be amazing!” There is almost always a battle; I have to sacrifice something. There is almost always something else I’d rather be doing.
But there is a huge difference in the days I spend living for God now and the days I spent for myself before. The entire difference lies in how I use my time. I didn’t understand before, but now I see that that is where the key lies. I cannot possibly expect to live a victorious and fruitful life without God’s Spirit, and when I know that God’s Spirit is in His Word, I see that I am completely dependent on filling myself with God’s Word every day, no matter how busy I may be.
Before it was almost like the day wasn’t really complete unless I had accomplished this or that with a game or with music in some way. Then I thought the day was just wasted.
But now those days are gone. Now the day is not complete if I haven’t gotten something heavenly in my life. If I haven’t filled myself with something good and pure from God. This has led me to become exceedingly happy, with tremendous hope for the future and what God can create in me!