Are You Spending Your Life on Trivial Pursuits?

A third century Church Father once said that the devil majored in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds.  The older I get, the more I think the Desert Father was right. The enemy seeks to fill our lives with meaningless things (noise) so we don’t hear the truth of the Gospel.  He works to keep us busy and entertained (hurry) if we happen to embrace the truth of the Gospel so it makes little difference in our lives.  He strives to surround us with others who are doing the same thing (our friends, families, co-workers and the like) so that we don’t consistently  live out the truth of the Gospel, never seriously impacting our lives or the lives of those around us.

If ever there was a time in the history of the world where it’s easy to give oneself to meaningless things, it is now.  There are so many options, aren’t there?  Between Cityville, Castleville, Farmville, perusing Facebook, or tweeting about the mundane things of life, as if anyone cares (I still haven’t found anyone who actually cares that “I’m writing a new article for the blog!”), or spending endless hours on the internet and the like.

What about TV and movies? Do you know how much time we waste sitting in front of a TV?  It is startling.  Back in the pre-historic 1990’s a study came out which said that the average American, living a normal life span, would spend thirteen (13) years of their entire life (from cradle to the grave) watching TV.   Thirteen years in front of the Television!  This was before Facebook and the internet craze.

Our average life expectancy in America is around 78 years.  This means that most of us will spend about 17% of our lives watching television.

Can you imagine what the study would say if it included these time wasters? In a 2010 survey, researchers discovered that for the first time ever, Americans spend just as much time on the internet as they do watching TV. Take a 16-year-old, who will live to be 78, and they will add almost 5 years of their life on the internet. Bringing the grand total, for the average young person today to almost 18 years of their life spent on TV, internet and social media. That is over  1/5 of their lives!  All that trivial stuff just adds up after a while.

Why do we spend so much time engaged in meaningless things?  I can understand why those who reject Christ do this.  We all want to do something.  So we keep ourselves busy and occupied with whatever we can.  But the disciples of Christ?  When you think about the implications of the Gospel call, it is hard to understand why the followers of Christ could succumb to this way of living.  But succumb we do.

I ask myself how much time I would have left over in my day if I packed up the TV’s in my house and put them in storage after each NFL season?  If I didn’t do Facebook?  If I stopped writing these four meaningless blogs that few people care about?  How much time would be left over to volunteer to serve anyway the Lord would direct me?  According to these studies, about 7 years of the rest of my life!

When I shared this information with my own children, they exclaimed: “I am not going to invest 1/5 of my life doing that!”  I’m trying to figure out how to do the same thing.  Perhaps this article will encourage you to reflect on your own life.  We do not want to get to the end of our lives and looking back say “I wish I hadn’t wasted so many of the best years of my life on trivial pursuits.”

But will we?

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About Jim

Not For Itching Ears is a blog dedicated to discussing the serious issues that exist within the American Evangelical church. It is a place for like-minded people to share their thoughts on a host of issues relating to this subject. Jim is available to speak at weekend services, and retreats at no cost to churches in Florida. Contact us for more information.

Posted on May 15, 2012, in Christianity, Contemporary Church Culture, The Christian Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. It reminds me of my favourite Thoreau quotation:

    “I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, To put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die Discover that I had not lived.” – Henry David Thoreau

  2. I live in the land of Hurry. I live in Southern California, where, if having one thing to do in a day is good, having three is better. I decided long ago I didn’t want to live that way and have purposefully gone against the grain of this insanely paced lifestyle.

    I often sit with amusement and watch as people make sure they arrive, greet everyone at whatever event it happens to be (including family events) and then begin to say “when are we eating I have another event to be at in an hour.” Or “No, I’m sorry I can’t really stay, I was just popping in to say Hi, I have to be across town in 30 minutes and then I have another thing in a couple of hours.”

    I know they honestly believe that what they’re communicating is that “you are so important that I made sure I stopped by”, but what they’re really saying is “I’m so important I have several things to be at today and you should be glad I made time for you.” …..well…..I’m not, so get over yourself.

    As for distractions, I’m not perfect, never pretended to be, but I do limit the distractions in my house. We have never had more than one TV and one computer and never will. We limited our kids TV time and “forced the little urchins to play outside in the streets.”

    For me, the point is there will always be distractions. The question is, will I rule the distractions or will the distractions rule me?

    • Nico,

      I am impressed! I remember telling myself that I would never let my kids own video games. Now, if I ask them if they want to play games the questions is simply “What system?” I admire you for sticking to your guns.

      When you moving back to the promised land? aka Colorado

  3. As far as the “crowds”, the Devil seems to have found a particular nuance to this with the internet. Far too many of us seem to only have Facebook friends that we may or may not have met. There are far too many of us unable to communicate with other human beings outside of some electronic medium, i.e. chat programs, email, or text message.
    Also, as far as spending about 1/5 of our lives in front of the TV, this generation growing up is actually expected (for the first time ever) to have a shorter life expectancy because of obesity and lack of physical activity. I wonder if that will make the TV/life ratio larger?

  4. Wow, this blog spoke to my heart. I accidentally came across this blog looking for a salsa recipe to make for the football game we are watching later on today, Above the recipe was the title “Not for itching ears.” I was intrigued and had to read. The wasting of time is so true in my life and probably the reason why I am so down. The Holy Spirit is speaking to me to do more than what I am doing now–to seek Him more. Thank you for your insight and obedience to speak the truth.

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