Taming the Text October 09 2015

How many times have you seen a couple or a family in a restaurant immersed in their smartphones, ignoring one another?   Can you imagine how the Last Supper might have gone if the disciples all had smartphones?  Da Vinci’s masterpiece would have looked very different. 

Last time we looked at texting and emailing as an extension of the tongue. We saw that Scriptures are clear that we are accountable to God for every word (Jesus, in Matthew 12:36-37, referred to every “careless” word). In the same way, smartphones are  an outlet for our character as a whole. They can make it more convenient to ignore one another.

So how do we resist the temptation to let our phones control our life? Let's suppose I am with a group of friends, in the middle of a very significant conversation, and my phone is vibrating incessantly. What do I do?  Lets use 2 Corinthians 5:14 as part of our Biblical basis of response – “for the love of Christ controls us”;  and v. 15 – “so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on our behalf.” In other words, we are to be controlled by love, not our smart phones (or anything else, for that matter).   We need to determine what is the loving thing to do in that situation.  

If I answer that phone or respond to the text in the middle of our conversation, what does that tell the people I’m with?  I have said, in effect, that communicating with the person at the other end of the phone is more important than completing my conversation with those in my physical presence.

Think of the most famous or important person you have ever met.  You would certainly not let a phone call interrupt a conversation with that person.   Why let it interrupt the conversation with someone else?  The act of not taking the call or immediately responding to the text can be a simple, but profound, demonstration of love.

Could this be an emergency?  Certainly.  Might I need to take a call from someone I have been trying to reach?  Yes.  But if I must respond, part of loving the person you are with is explaining why I need to interrupt the current conversation.  You may also need to explain to the person on the other end of the text or phone call, why you cannot always respond immediately. It’s hard to resist the expectation of immediate response, but it is good for them to understand that instantaneous replies are not always necessary.  Very few communications are actual emergencies.

The bottom line is that I should leave no room for the other person to say, justifiably, that I am not demonstrating love toward them.  “As far as it depends on you, be at peace with ALL men” (Romans 12:18).   People may misunderstand our best efforts to show love, but their response is not our responsibility.  Loving them, however, is.

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Steve Smith