I’ll admit it. I like to play games. Monopoly, Clue, Catan. It doesn’t matter. And it isn’t just board games. Those I can only play with friends or family. I loved playing the Legend of Zelda games and Mario Kart with my kids when they were little. When I bought them Webkinz, I usually bought myself one too. Not only did they feed my love of stuffed animals, they allowed me to play games with them on the computer.
And now that we have phones and tablets with us wherever we go, I have games at my finger tips. This is great when I’m waiting for the doctor, but not so great when I have things I need to do at home. I used to have several games loaded on my phone, but in recent years I’ve limited myself to one. I play Farmville 2. It doesn’t take any thought, and it allows me to interact with other players. It’s perfect for when I’m bored and want something that doesn’t take any energy to do.
But it’s a hazard when it comes to getting work done. It’s not that it’s this super fun, can’t ignore it game. It’s not a challenge. It doesn’t bring some big reward into my life for completing it. It’s not giving me a way to connect with my loved ones like a board game does. There’s nothing special about it, but it draws me to it every time.
It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but left unchecked it can suck away great chunks of time I could and should be using to do other things. I work a full-time job. In addition to that, I write. My writing includes actual writing, blogging, making videos, reading books on craft, interacting on social media, and creating marketing graphics and promotions. It’s a full time job on top of my full time job! I don’t have time to waste.
But there have been times I’ve done exactly that. I’ll be waiting for something to upload, and I pull out my phone while I wait. I tell myself it will be a quick check of the farm, and I’ll be back to work before the upload is complete. Wrong. Ten minutes after the video or whatever has loaded, I’m still planting corn and feeding my sheep. It’s time I’ve wasted that I’m not getting back.
I think, it’s only two more minutes until the new market comes up and I can try to get that lantern I need. What’s two minutes going to hurt? Before I know it, twenty minutes have passed. I never feel like it’s going to be that long, but then it is. I’ve wasted valuable time, and I never saw it coming.
We’re like that in our spiritual lives as well. We know what we should be doing and what we should avoid. But we make little compromises we justify as harmless and start down a path we didn’t intend to take.
We know lying is wrong. Something happens and we omit a detail or two as we explain it. Or maybe we simply exaggerate it for effect. We’ve not lied, really. But then someone questions us about it, and we go a step further. It’s not hurting anyone, and it keeps us out of trouble or keeps us from hurting someone else’s feelings. That makes it okay. Soon, we’re backed into a corner where it’s either lie big or face the music. Each little step along the way has prepped us to follow through with the lie we never thought we’d tell. We’re at sin’s door before we even realize we’ve been walking that direction.
And it’s not only lying. The enemy knows what he’s doing. He knows to hit us in the face with blatant temptation to sin isn’t going to work a lot of the time. But if he can ease us along the path, he has a chance at getting us to fall.
We have to be on guard. We have to watch for the little things and not only the big ones. First Peter 5:8 instructs us to be vigilant about watching out for sin. Our enemy is seeking to devour us. We have to stop seeing the compromises as little and unimportant. They’re the first steps to a big fall.
In my writing life, wasting time with a game isn’t usually a huge problem. I simply have to try harder to make the time up later. It’s an inconvenience that I create. But with the compromises in life, it’s not the same. There’s no making up for the sin we commit. There’s forgiveness, always. But the lasting result of sin is damage done to ourselves, our witness, and our relationship with God. And it starts with one little step when we’re not watching for it.
What activities are time wasters for you?