Article by: Laura Bailey
My hand hovered over the social media apps on my phone.
The Holy Spirit had undeniably convicted me—those little square icons were distracting me from the work God had called me to do in a big way.
As my finger flirted with the screen, I began negotiating with the Lord:
What if I silenced all the apps’ notifications?
What if I set a daily timer to remind me to log off?
What if I only logged on once a week?
I felt sure that God wanted me to digitally detox, so why was obeying Him such a struggle?
Truth accompanied by guilt pricked my heart—those apps were more than a distraction—they had become outright idols.
It started with a five-minute check-in on my phone, which provided a way to check-out of motherhood.
Those intended few minutes would turn into a couple of hours of mindless scrolling while the girls napped and ended in my falling asleep with the phone in hand.
Neither social media nor smartphones pose any inherent problem.
Nope, this is a “user error.”I felt sure that God wanted me to digitally detox, so why was obeying Him such a struggle?
Has your phone become an idol?
When my devices captivate my thoughts and minds to the point that I rely on dings, buzzes, and alerts to fill a void in my life that can only be filled by the Lord, I become like the rebellious Israelites of old.
They turned from worshiping the one true God to the man-made gods around them—IDOLS.
In the past, I’ve proudly stated that unlike the Israelites, I would never fall so low as to worship other gods.
Their allegiance ping-ponged between God and man-made, graven images.
I remember the first time I read about their fashioning and then worshiping the golden calf in Exodus 32.
A metal cow, albeit a precious metal one—seriously?
I naively equated the sin of idolatry with worshiping foreign gods and sacrificing to literal images forged from metal, stone, or wood, something I’d never do.
Later, I came upon Paul’s words to the Colossians, “Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry (Co 3:5).”
Paul told these early believers that they must die to the sins of the flesh (idols) and live their new, redeemed lives in Christ.
A quick glance at the list above might result in our thinking that we’re in the clear because we don’t struggle with any of these particular sins, but we’re only fooling ourselves.
For starters, a closer examination of what Paul meant by “covetousness” will most likely hit close to home, if not squarely between the eyes.
Covetousness, in this context, means anything that the heart desires or loves more than God.When my devices captivate my thoughts and minds to the point that I rely on dings, buzzes, and alerts to fill a void in my life that can only be filled by the Lord, I become like the rebellious Israelites of old.
What exactly is idolatry?
On the subject of idolatry, the theologian and author John Piper writes, “It starts in the heart: craving, wanting, enjoying, being satisfied by anything that you treasure more than God.”
Using my phone as a distraction from the monotony of motherhood may not seem like a serious issue, especially when considering the multiple other means of distraction one might employ.
But, deep down, I craved attention and desired an escape from my current circumstances.
Instead of opening my Bible, I flipped through my phone because doing this was easier than addressing the sin in my life.
My phone provided temporary relief for what ailed me; it treated the symptoms but not the cause.
I needed intervention. My heart needed spiritual surgery.My phone provided temporary relief for what ailed me; it treated the symptoms but not the cause.
What does God think about idolatry?
God hates idolatry.
Both the Old and New Testament are replete with passages that clearly state God’s wrath against idolatry and warnings for His children to stay away from false gods.
God specifically says in the third commandment of Exodus 20 that we are not to bow down or worship anything other than Him because He is a jealous God.
It’s essential to understand that God’s jealousy is not out of insecurity but because He alone is righteous and Holy.
He deserves our uncontested love and devotion, not the other way around!
Moreover, the Lord God desires intimacy and fellowship with us to such a degree that He offered His only and perfect son’s life as payment for the debt we owe, the sin that separates us from Him.
How to protect your heart against idolatry?
It is a daily battle. I must continually ask myself: do I love the created more than the Creator (Rom 1:25)?
The Creator sent His Son to die so that I could have eternal life and glorify and enjoy Him forever.
Yet, I frequently take my eyes off of Him, falling for the same lie as Eve: “God is holding you back; there is a better life outside of Him.”
And just like Eve, I soon discover that nothing is further from the truth. Guilty and ashamed, I hide from the Lord instead of running to Him.
As Christians, we must take regular inventory of and closely examine our hearts’ desires.
Ask yourself these questions to help keep your heart in check:
- Am I using my phone as an escape?
- Am I spending time scrolling that I could use more productively?
- Am I replacing time in The Word with articles, posts, podcasts about God’s Word?
- Am I seeking validation through the applications on my phone?
God’s deep desire is to sit on the throne of our lives, not out of some selfish need to be in control, but because He loves us and desires pure and righteous fellowship with us, which other idols we worship prevent.God's deep desire is to sit on the throne of our lives, not out of some selfish need to be in control, but because He loves us and desires pure and righteous fellowship with us
Detox your heart with the WORD30 Challenge.
WORD30 is a 30-day “spiritual cleanse” where participants are inspired and equipped to exchange 2-3 worldly habits for 2-3 godly habits. Our free 20-page challenge kit is packed with resources to help you decide what you’ll give up what you’ll replace it with.
This is not a legalistic challenge, or a “spiritual makeover”, or your typical New Year’s resolution.
It is a challenge that requires us to put our hope and faith in Christ as we seek the grace and strength necessary to follow Him.
Let us put no other gods before our Heavenly Father and be diligent in removing anything and everything in our lives that keeps us from following the greatest commandment, to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, soul, and strength (Deut 6:5).
Nothing this side of Heaven will ever satisfy us other than an intimate, personal relationship with God the Father, which comes by grace, through faith in His son, Jesus Christ (Eph 2:8).
– Laura Bailey
Deeply burdened for Christian women who, like herself, juggle marriage, motherhood, careers, church, and community, Laura candidly shares her daily struggles and lessons learned to encourage them to live fully and abundantly in Christ. She and her husband live in Gaffney, South Carolina with their three young girls. Laura is a contributor for Proverbs 31 Ministries, Encouragement for Today, and writes regularly on her blog at LauraRBailey.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.