Television Is It Your “Precious”?

Television Is It Your “Precious?”      

By Mike Johnston  


Television has come a long way since I was a child in the 1960s. Back then, every program was broadcast in black and white. When color televisions first became available to the public, only the wealthy could afford one. Even after they became affordable, it still took years for the networks to switch to full-color programming.

Today, we expect everything in blazing high-definition color, and the stand-alone analog television has been relegated to the dust heap of history. Streaming content is now delivered via the internet to mobile devices and “smart” flat screens.

Unfortunately, as technology has advanced, the moral boundaries that once guided the content of programming have all but been erased. For example, in those early days showing a married couple sitting on the same bed was taboo unless one of them had both feet firmly planted on the floor. Now, the couple need not be married, clothed or even in a heterosexual relationship.

Having witnessed all these changes, it is very tempting to get up on a soap box and proclaim with great passion that television is of the devil and no Christian home should have one. Trust me, I’ve done it—and not always with positive results. The problem is that for too many professing Christians, television has become the “precious” depicted in The Lord of the Rings. You can admonish these individuals about the dangers of drinking, smoking, greed or sexual immorality but don’t touch the “precious.” They will say you have gone too far and you risk being branded legalistic or extreme.

But what is the real issue here? Television, after all, is just one example of a whole list of things that are vying for our time, attention and financial resources. The truth is, they are vying for our hearts.

Pastor Rex Andrews, author of What the Bible Teaches about Mercy, wrote back in the 1960s, “Anything that doesn’t draw you TO Jesus draws you AWAY from Jesus.”

Read that statement again and then think about what it would mean to actually apply this principle to the choices we make in our daily lives. In our current culture, that idea would indeed appear rather extreme, even radical. But consider it in light of Jesus’ words when He was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul and with your entire mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38) [Emphasis mine]

Did Jesus really mean ALL? Really? ALL? Talk about radical!

Frankly, the only reason brother Andrew’s statement, or Jesus’ words, might seem too extreme to actually apply to the choices we make each day is because we have forgotten, or never fully understood, that God demands a growing holiness and consecration of heart in the lives of those who choose to follow Jesus—especially as we approach His return.

The late David Wilkerson of World Challenge commented on a prophecy found in Micah 4:6-7. Micah saw a people of God, a remnant being released in the last days, led by the Spirit and called “outcasts” by the apostate church. Wilkerson quoted Jerome, one of the early church fathers who described who those people would be: “…those children of God who are repentant and who rise above worldly things and aspire to heaven.” Wilkerson goes on to say, “This is a heavenly-minded people, weary of lightness [lack of spiritual substance] and compromise, a people who yearn for holiness in God’s house.”

That focus should form the basis from which every true child of God evaluates every aspect of his or her life, including things that may have no obvious moral component in and of themselves.

So how do we do this…evaluating the things we have, the choices we make…to determine if they are hindering or helping us?

At a minimum, there are three questions I recommend we ask ourselves. These are questions I have found helpful in evaluating whether or not something is appropriate for my own life. I will apply each question to television, but I encourage you to apply this to whatever the Lord may be prompting you to evaluate.

First, is there anything morally objectionable or even questionable in the choices I am making?

When it comes to television, this should be the easiest question to answer. Steve Gallagher often said, “Much of what passes for entertainment on television today is nothing more than the reenactment and glorification of the deeds of the flesh.”

His view is backed up by numerous studies including one by the Parents Television Council which compared the changes in sex, language, and violence between decades. The special report entitled What a Difference a Decade Makes [I] found that, on a per-hour basis, sexual material more than tripled in the last decade. For example, while references to homosexuality were once rare, now they are mainstream. Furthermore, the study found that foul language increased five-fold in just a decade.

The Apostle Paul reminds us that we will reap what we sow, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.” How is it then that we can be so foolish to think we are somehow immune from what we allow to pour into our hearts? God warns us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

We should at least be able to agree that these biblical standards would eliminate a huge percentage of what passes as “entertainment,” even in many Christian homes today.

Second, do the choices I am making result in an appropriate use of my time?

Several years ago, I calculated how many hours I spent watching television from the age of ten through the age of twenty—arguably, the most formative years of my life. A conservative estimate came out to be a staggering 10,400 hours! Never mind the content of the programming, consider the sheer number of hours we spend viewing television. I couldn’t help but wonder how different my choices might have been and, consequently, how much more godly of a man I would be today had I used that amount of time meditating on the Word of God

The Apostle Paul admonished the Ephesians to be particularly careful about how they used their time, “Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise [sensible, intelligent people], making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil. Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17 AMP)

How will we answer to God for how we used our time in light of eternity and considering the brevity of our time here on earth?

Finally, how do my choices impact others?

A 2006 survey estimated that the television is on for more than eight hours each day in the average home.[ii] Other studies estimate that the average child watches four hours of television a day. The American Psychological Association estimates the average child watches eight thousand televised murders and one hundred thousand acts of violence before finishing elementary school.[iii] That number more than doubles by the time he or she reaches age eighteen

The obvious challenge here is to the parents in those homes. If a child is being exposed to that much of the spirit of this world, it would be foolish to believe that a few hours in church once or twice a week is going to counter that message. At a minimum, the priest of the home needs to teach discernment while establishing and maintaining a tight rein on what is being watched and how much time is being used watching it. “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

But the impact on others goes even further.

As Paul told Timothy, we too are admonished, “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:1-2)

The Apostle Peter tells us, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15)

Are you prepared to do these things? Are your choices hindering or helping you to be prepared to give an answer to someone who is desperately lost and in need of a witness—a witness filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking truth in power? How sad that so many in the church, professing to be ambassadors for Jesus Christ, can freely converse about what Rush Limbaugh said yesterday or who the front-runner is on American Idol, but fall silent when someone needs to hear of the hope we have in Jesus Christ.

My friend, we need to get gut-wrenchingly honest with ourselves about a lot more than whether or not a Christian home should have a television. Whether its television or other forms of entertainment, the latest tech gadget, hobbies or other leisure activities, relationships, etc., we need to ask, “Does this draw me closer to Jesus or does it draw me away?” Is it morally objectionable to God? Is it God’s will that I use my time this way? What kind of eternal impact will this have on those around me?

More than that, we need to be open to hearing what the Holy Spirit tells us, and respond without delay. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22)

May God give us the courage and grace to do what He tells us to do!2013 All rights reserved.  Permission is granted to use, copy, distribute, or re-transmit information or materials on this page; so long as proper acknowledgment is given to Pure Life Ministries as the source of the materials, and no modifications are made to such material.

Presented here by Free Indeed Ministries for educational and informational  purposes only.