worthless things - meditation monday - psalm 119:36-37
This Monday, I’m meditating on Psalm 119 verses 36-37 where it 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.
In this age of social media, we don’t really have to go digging around to find worthless things to look at.
The social world is full of self-promotion and distracting things. From news articles to funny clips to helpful tips for literally anything. It’s full of information everywhere. So how do we navigate it with wisdom and discretion?
A few questions we might ask ourselves is – “What am I consuming?” or “Am I in a season to emotionally and maturely handle what I’m exposing myself to?”
Maybe news articles right now weigh heavily on your heart and you carry it through your day. Maybe someone living their best life is at a time where you are at your worst. Maybe pregnancy announcements, engagements, and new homes come at a time when you are in a waiting period.
We are also not meant to take in so much information in just a short 5-minute IG scroll. Bombarded by news articles from other countries (Shouldn’t I be informed?), a friend of a friends go-fund me (shouldn’t I donate?), or ones that hit closer to home like growing in your walk with the Lord (Shouldn’t I be listening to more podcasts and reading more books?).
Some of these things are not worthless things at all, but the weight of them on our minds and thoughts oftentimes has us walking away from those five minutes with envy, disembodied ideals, and a sense of lack. And rightfully so, we are finite beings after all.
We have limitations, and though limitations are not necessarily the problem, our desire to exceed them can be.
There is wisdom in recognizing when you might benefit from stepping away from social media for a season, or indefinitely. Or even putting up some boundaries when it comes to social media use.
Replace time scrolling with time in the Word or in prayer.
(incline my heart to your testimonies)
Trade out covetousness for contentment.
(not to selfish gain)
Lay down self-sufficiency for a surrendered life.
(give me life in your ways)
Psalm 101:3 says, “I will not set my eyes before anything that is worthless.”
What are worthless things in our society? In the social sphere I think of idolatry, pride, deception, moral evil, and so on. The worthless things of this world bring a steady flow of temptations. We must firmly resolve not to set our eyes on worthless things but instead replace them with worthy things.
But what are worthy things? I call Philippians 4:8 to mind – “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Paul calls his readers to a life of obedience, the right response to the peace of God. The virtues listed are not exhaustive but representative, and they come to expression in countless ways. Thinking on such things is not an end in itself, but preparation for purposeful action.
We endlessly scroll through things that are not, on the one hand, explicitly wrong and wicked, but, on the other hand, are things without any value to our joy or our edification.
We would do well to think sober minded about our time spent on social media and how to steward it well. Every worthless thing that distracts us and fills our attention has long term consequences, killing our joy, distorting our reality, and pulling us away from the rest, contentment and life found in Christ.
Ending this post with a snippet of a favorite puritan prayer of mine:
“May I never be importunate for temporal blessings,
But always refer them to thy fatherly goodness,
For thou knowest what I need before I ask;
May I never think I prosper unless my soul prospers,
Or that I am rich unless rich toward thee,
Or that I am wise unless wise unto salvation.
May I seek first thy kingdom and its righteousness.
May I value things in relation to eternity.
May my spiritual welfare be my chief solicitude.
May I be poor, afflicted, despised and have thy blessing,
Rather than be successful in enterprise,
Or have more than my heart can wish,
Or be admired by my fellow-men,
If thereby these things make me forget thee.
May I regard the world as dreams, lies, vanities, vexation of spirit,
And desire to depart from it.
And may I seek my happiness in thy favour, image, presence, service.