But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.1 Thessalonians 4:10–12, (ESV)
I sometimes wonder what our ancestors would think if they could have entered a time machine and visited our present day.
My house is near what is known as Signal Hill. Signal Hill was used in the Revolutionary War to relay a signal from New York Harbor to Philadelphia. If the British Fleet left the harbor, the colonist would alert Philadelphia before the Fleet’s arrival. There was no other way as efficient. But what would those people have thought of the iPhone that can text a picture in a split second?
Or what would have the people from the 1800s have thought to ride in an automobile? We live in these concrete jungles because of the advent of the car. Cars allow us to travel farther in one day than our ancestors might have traveled in a lifetime. Amazing!
It is no secret. I am a techie. I love my gadgets. I am fascinated by technology. I strive to understand how it works and how it can better be used for ministry. Technology gives us so many blessings. We use the tools of technology to be more efficient. It allows us to communicate with those we love in ways we have never been able. The fact that you are able to read my words right now (probably somewhere not in Jersey) is a blessing of technology.
Our local grocery store now does online ordering. We can order our groceries from the convenience of our home. We are assigned a designated pick-up-time. We pull up to the designated spot and a worker will bring our groceries to our car. It is a wonderful service and eliminates the sometimes stressful grocery shopping before a holiday. Time saved! Less stress! It is a big win in my book!
But I want to pause right there . . .
The bottom line is that technology makes us more efficient. Because we can accomplish tasks faster, we can ultimately get more done. But just because we can get more done does not mean that we should get more done.
The temptation for me is to think, that because I saved time ordering my groceries online, that I now have more time to get other things done. But what if I didn’t use that time saved to get more done? What if I used the efficiencies of technology to get my work done faster? In other words, I work more efficiently to work less.
I can use that time saved to abide with God and with those I love. My challenge for you is to use the efficiencies of technology to make less work so you can more fully invest in the things that are important to you.
The efficiency of technology tempts us to spread ourselves out further and further. The irony is that technologies designed to simplify our lives help us to add more and more complexity. The very tools meant to unburden our lives are the very things we use to pile on more.
The Apostle Paul reminds us to aspire to live quietly and work with our hands. What this means to me is to use the technology to unburden and simplify my life. It is something I need to constantly monitor.
Back to those ancestors in a time machine. I wonder which thing would amaze them the most? Would it be what technology can do? Or would it be what technology has done to us? Rather than technology serving us, we have become servants of our technology.
- In what ways can and do you use technology to simplify your life?
- How do you guard against technology adding complexity and burdening your life?
Lord, we thank you for this amazing time we live in. Thank you for giving the wisdom and intelligence you gave to so many people to make the incredible advances in medicine, communications, and technology. Our lives are easier than those of our ancestors. We have possibilities and opportunities they could have never dreamed possible. But too often we use the tools and technologies to complicate our lives. Give us the wisdom to use these gifts to unburden ourselves and live more fully for the things that are important. Amen.