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Using tech well takes God-given discernment

January 9, 2023

Daily Scripture

Proverbs 25:28, 16:21-25

Proverbs 25

28 A person without self-control
is like a breached city, one with no walls.

Proverbs 16

21 The skilled mind is called discerning,
and pleasant speech enhances teaching.
22 One who has insight is a fountain of life,
but the instruction of the foolish is folly.
23 The mind of the wise makes their speech insightful
and enhances the teaching of their lips.
24 Pleasant words are flowing honey,
sweet to the taste and healing to the bones.
25 There is a path that may seem straight to someone,
but in the end it is the path of death.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

The Hebrew sages who collected the sayings in the book of Proverbs might have loved Twitter—and feared its ability to absorb our time. They used short, pointed sayings to express the wise ideas in their book. In their day, the main way to defend a city was a strong, thick wall. “[Breached] gives a picture of an attacking army making a breach or opening in the wall or defenses of a city. As a result, that part of the city is left without a protecting wall.” * Self-control, they said, was that wall for our inner life.

  • Proverbs 16:21 said a discerning mind is important. Verse 23 similarly praised insight. Yet people design many of the technology tools we use to find ways to catch and hold our interest, long past the item that originally led us to click on them. How are discernment and insight particularly valuable in helping us use technology without becoming addicted to it, and letting it fill up time and energy we meant to spend on more productive activities?
  • In a world with much less technology than today, Proverbs 16:25 issued a sobering warning. “The picture may be that of a journey in which the traveler believes he is headed on a straight road or path toward his destination, but discovers only too late that his path leads to death.” ** Have you ever found that an app you downloaded, thinking it would be useful, is having deadly effects (inwardly if not outwardly)? Can you purposely delete any such technology tools?

Lord God, we’ve long since moved beyond the technology of your Old Testament people—but their wisdom still speaks to our needs. Give me the self-control to choose your life-giving ways. Amen.

GPS Insights

Sally Haynes

Sally Haynes serves as Pastor in Residence for Adult Discipleship. Most recently, she was Pastor of Central United Methodist Church and helped guide them through the discernment process of becoming Resurrection-Brookside at Historic Central. Sally and Andy have three children who, along with their spouses, live from sea to shining sea. In her free time, Sally enjoys knitting, reading mystery books, and reading online with her granddaughter.

If you’ve driven in rain or snow lately, your drive was made possible because a woman named Mary Anderson paid attention during a streetcar ride in New York City in 1902.

Mary was visiting New York for the first time and was riding the streetcar on a snowy day. She was cold, and she noticed the cold air that blew in every time the streetcar driver would have to open his window to wipe snow off the windshield with his hand. While shivering in the cold bursts, she came up with the idea for the windshield wiper. (Even the most ordinary-to-us things had to have been dreamed and invented by someone.) If her nose had been buried in her smartphone (well, in 1902, it might have been buried in a serial from her favorite magazine), our windshields might remain unwiped to this day.

The author of Proverbs, in teaching us the way to live with meaning and purpose, taught us, “Let your eyes look directly forwards, and your gaze be straight before you” (Proverbs 4:25). How often are our eyes wandering towards our electronic devices instead? How often are you missing what is right in front of you because you are engaged with electronics? Distracted living can be as dangerous as distracted driving.

Without looking up, can you name who is near you right now, what they are doing and how they are feeling?

I invite you plan a “digital sabbath” for some portion of today. (And, yes, I see the irony of the fact that you are reading these words on an electronic device of some sort.) Make time to be present fully to God’s good creation around you, including the people that God has given you in your life. In those moments, you might not invent something as world-changing as windshield wipers, but you well might find that your own world is changed by the simple act of gazing fully at your present circumstances.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* William D. Reyburn and Euan McG. Fry, A Handbook on Proverbs. New York: United Bible Societies, p. 555.

** William D. Reyburn and Euan McG. Fry, A Handbook on Proverbs. New York: United Bible Societies, p. 312.