A while ago I told my husband that whenever I went to a particular online parenting forum, I came away feeling anxious about our children. He simply (and wisely) told me not to read it.
But sometimes the simplest advice is the hardest to take.
A few weeks ago, another update from this group appeared in my inbox and the headline caught my attention. I’m OK now, I can handle it, I thought. And besides, It’s important for me to be informed on this issue. So I clicked.
The post, by a woman I have never met, was about a crisis in her family. And my mind began racing, a mile a minute, wondering if we were on the verge of a similar disaster. Am I missing the warning signs? What if this happens to us?
My husband shook his head and smiled, as if to say “You could have avoided all this anxiety, if only you had taken my advice!” to which I offered no argument. He then explained why he did not think we were on the verge of a family crisis, and patiently led me back to the relevant truths from God’s Word.
The Internet age has conditioned us to think that because we can read everything, we should read everything. In fact, we think we have a kind of obligation to be “informed.” We must have “all the facts.”
But we must reexamine this “obligation to be informed” or this “right to know” from a biblical perspective. When the Corinthians tried to insist “All things are lawful for me” Paul rejoined “but not all things are helpful…I will not be dominated by anything” (1 Cor. 6:12).
So let’s hold this straight edge up against our online browsing habits:
It is “lawful” to read an online news source, but is it helpful for you?
It is “lawful” to visit online forums or chat rooms but does it build you up in the gospel? Does it build others up in the gospel?
It is “lawful” to follow certain Twitter or Facebook feeds, but is it always helpful?
In God’s kingdom, the prize doesn’t go to the “well-informed”, the one who knows everything about everything and everyone, but rather to the one who knows the God who knows everything: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom…but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me…declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV)
With that in mind, less time on the Internet and more time in God’s Word seems, in what must be a massive understatement, helpful.