In the grand scheme of things, the technology we’re using now is a relatively new phenomenon in the history of the world. And quite honestly, most churches haven’t spent the necessary time thinking through a robust theology of technology and what the bible says about it.
Here’s what I mean by that phrase… How would God have us embrace these advancements? What framework does He want built around how we use these items? That’s why it’s my pleasure to welcome you to the first post of our series titled, An Analog Life in a Digital World. The next 4 posts will look practically at creating a lens that you can filter technological advancements through.
In this post, we’re going to begin by laying an important foundation.
What Does the Bible Say About Technology?
Let’s begin by looking at Psalm 119.
“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.” Psalm 119 : 36-37
This psalm is what’s call an alphabetic acrostic. Do you know what an acrostic is? It’s when the first letter of each line is used with great purpose, normally to spell something out. Here’s an example for you.
Well, in this cause though, it’s an alphabetic acrostic. The Psalmist is very intentionally in using the twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet to start each stanza. And he’s doing this to appeal to the wholeness of God and His Word amidst an ever-changing world.
Now, if there is ever a Psalm that is applicable when talking about the ever-changing nature of technology, it’s this one. It’s like the Psalmist saying, “This document spells out everything you need from A to Z in this every changing, chaotic world.”
And so, he says, Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
Here’s our big idea for the beginning of this series. A truth that we must not only know but let travel from head to heart. You become what you behold.
Let’s look at 3 key lessons from this passage…
3 Key Lessons about Technology and Christianity from Psalms 119
1. What you behold will drive your affections.
The Psalmist asks God to, Incline [his] heart to [God’s] testimonies, and not to selfish gain!
When Psalmist is penning these words - the heart - at that time, is believed to be the center, not only of spiritual activity, but of all the operations of human life. The Heart is the seat of one’s consciousness.
So, the Psalmist doesn’t actually have the physical body part in mind here. There is nothing magical about the organ, itself.
The Psalmist is talking about his own desires and motivations here (his affections). It’s the things that gets you out of bed in the morning. It’s the things that motivate you to make the decisions that you do.
So, the heart in our text, is a huge deal! But here’s the problem (and this is what the Psalmist is getting at). The heart is naturally wicked.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
God Himself even says that the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. - Genesis 8:21
Folks, we are a wandering people. We have been since Genesis 3 and will continue to until we breathe our last. Our own compass will only move us further and further away from God.
And so, that’s exactly why Psalmist petitions the way he does. Incline my heart to your testimonies, God. I know that left to my own devices (pun intended) That I will always walk towards selfish gain! To what I like to watch. I will always run towards Stephen’s preferences, but they will rarely be what I truly need.
You know some of the phrases I dislike the most? Just follow your heart; Do what feels right to you; You do you and I’ll do me.
Now, I understand some of the reasoning behind this advice and the oppression that some people might have lived under for years, and they’re just beginning to discover themselves. But let’s just be honest… This is not good advice. This kind of advice does nothing for moving a naturally wicked heart towards the things of God.
That’s why the Psalmist asks God to incline - to stretch - his heart toward God’s testimonies. It’s a plea. He knows he’s helpless without God.
How many of you know that you’re helpless without God? How many of you know that your heart needs to be stretched most of the time (like any good muscle needs to be stretched to be strengthened)?
Left up to me, I’m a work hard, veg-out hard kind of person. Meaning I’ll work, work, work, and then justify scrolling my life away on the couch and call it relaxing. However, in the process, my boys want to play, and my wife wants my attention.
Like the Psalmist, I need to petition God daily to stretch my heart towards what his testimonies say about the Biblical life of a Father and Husband.
I need to know that His testimonies tell me that …a father deals with his own children [by] encouraging, comforting and urging [them] to live lives worthy of God - 1 Thess. 2:11-12
Or that as a Husband, I should be loving my wife, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her - Eph. 5:25
I need God’s desires for those things, because if I’m honest, when I’m tired my heart doesn’t naturally incline towards these things. I’m prone to wander, to default to self-preservation (to selfish gain).
What I behold will drive my affections and it will begin to seep into my outward extremities. And that’s where the Psalmist goes.
2. What you behold will affect what you look at
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
John Calvin, in his Commentary on this Psalm says, “The disease of covetousness not only lurks in our hearts, but spreads over every part, so that neither eyes, ears, feet, nor hands, have escaped its baneful influence; in a word, nothing is exempted from corruption.”
He also goes onto say that our eyes are two open gates for the devil to enter in through.
And boy, isn’t that true? Doesn’t that paint such a sobering picture for us as we think through our technology use? And I’m not just talking about the lures of social media. I’m talking about everything you expose yourself too. Anything in unhealthy excess needs to be guarded against
Today, may we echo the prayers of the Psalter. God, please, Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things and turn my eyes to that of value. My relationship with: You, God. My family. My friends. My neighbors. The broken. The homeless. The needy.
God, stop my fingers from simply double tapping on a sad video and convincing myself I care about justice. Turn my eyes from worthless things and move my hands into action. Turn my eyes from worthlessness and give me life in your ways
May I see that I will become what I behold.
3. What you behold will determine where you walk
Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
All of us are walking on one of two paths. Your path, or God’s path. There are no other paths available. His ways, or your ways.
Therefore, it’s so very important you know that you will become what you behold, and what you behold will shape you, control you. Influencing your words and deeds.
Now, I don’t want you to leaving here having thought I’ve said that technology is evil and we should scrap it all, because I don’t believe that (I’m a techie, I love gadgets and new smart devices).
I don’t believe technology is evil, I believe that technology is neutral. It’s neither good nor bad. It simply becomes what we make of it. So, if we’re operating out of selfish gain, we will harness technology for selfish gain. If the deceit of our heart is unchecked, then technology will reap what we have sown into it. It will always respond to our requests, for better or worse. So, if we’re operating out of an inclined heart towards the things of God, then technology can be harnessed towards that end.
Church, ultimately this is an issue of the heart this morning. What path/road are you walking down today? Who or what are you pursuing? Who or what are you beholding?
Final Thoughts: Are You Being Influenced by the draws and lures of Technology?
So, as I close, I want to make bold statement.
If your daily life is not marked by that of a similar plea in Psalmist here, there is a chance that your life is being influenced by the draws and lures of technology.
Church, we have a Savior who came to this earth and lived the life we never could, who was tempted in all the ways our hearts are tempted, but never sinned. This innocent Jesus was arrested, beaten and nail a cross where our deceitful hearts and prideful tendencies were placed on him.
He who knew none of it, became it so that we might understand freedom from the vicious cycle of our sinfulness.
And when Jesus rose from the grave - three days later - he declared his victory over sin, Satan, and powerlessness; and for those who believe in him, for those who receive that gift of grace, he gives His power, in the person of the Holy Spirit. So that we can, for the time, steer in a different/righteous direction
Next Steps – Technology Free Mealtime Challenge
So, in the way of NEXT STEPS today, let’s just get real. What is it for you? Where is your heart prone to wander? What technology is your greatest weakness?
- Ask God right now to reveal it you. When it comes to mind, write it down.
- Join us for the mealtime challenge this month. Make sure that piece of technology is either turned off, or away from you, every time you’re eating this month. It’s going to be hard, but nothing worth doing was never easy.
See you guys next week, for part 2!