Man Shall Not Live by Netflix Alone — Don’t Waste Your Quarantine
by Pastor Aaron Adame
This changes everything! The Coronavirus, along with our response to it as individuals and as a local and global society, has changed everything in a relatively small period of time. Your Spring Break plans, done! Your investment plans, tanked! Your friend gatherings, shut down! Everything has changed! All of a sudden, most people have more expendable time on their hands, which can be good or bad. Time is like a vacuum or a void—it will fill itself with something. A wise person thinks through how to spend and invest in it.
A challenge I want to make to you in this time of “mandatory” quarantine that was just laid out via Governor Kate Brown, is to think wisely about how you spend that time. And not only that, but to think through the information and voices you are listening to. I can speak for myself, my entire work week rhythm is completely thrown off. I have to be all the more intentional to plan out what I am doing in order to redeem the time. This is forcing me to think more creatively, more passionately about the things I can do, instead of wallowing in what I can’t do due to the isolation. Furthermore, I can also say that I have never paid attention to the news more than I am right now. And as I do, I am cautious to not let these secular voices impact my attitude or my faith.
All of this made me think of Deuteronomy 8:3, which says this:
And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD (Deuteronomy 8:3 ESV).
The context is God speaking to his people through Moses, preparing them on how to live in the promised land after their forty years of wilderness wanderings that resulted from their rebellion. His point is to mention that those forty years, as hard and difficult as they were, were a tool God used to teach humility and to remind them of their utter dependence upon God for everything.
What a great reminder this is to us as well.
The hardships we go through in life, the times of wandering, confusion, and waiting are not senseless intermissions. They are purposed by God for our good. Our part in all of this is to trust God, listen to His voice, and learn the lessons He is teaching us.
I thought of a few critical areas of life in isolation and how we are to turn to God’s Word as our source of truth, joy, life, and wisdom.
First, when you are bored. With all this extra time on your hands, don’t waste it watching Netflix (or whatever TV provider you use). Don’t waste it on social media. Man does not live on Netflix or Instagram alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Remember the story of David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). It is obvious in the literary context that David fell into sin because he was bored after choosing not to go out with the rest of the army. Too much time on our hands is usually not a good thing. You’ve heard the expression, “a failure to plan is a plan to fail.” David failed to plan out his time rightly, and after becoming bored, he fell into sin. By not doing what he should have been doing, he did what he ought not be doing.
So, remember, when you are bored, think of how you can spend that time interacting with God’s Word, allowing it to fill your time, energy and thoughts. I have found that, as the old hymn puts it, “temptations lose their power, when thou art nigh.”
Which flows to my second thought.
Second, when you are tempted. Interestingly, Jesus, when He was tempted by the Devil during His forty days of fasting in the wilderness, Jesus quoted this text in Deuteronomy. Matthew records it for us in chapter 4:4. “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4 ESV).
Jesus quotes this text for several reasons. First, as a fulfillment of where the Israelites failed. They failed to stay obedient in the forty years in the wilderness. But Jesus perfectly obeyed, and He did so by feeding on the Word of God. Second, to give an example of how we too can overcome temptation. The enemy, like a roaring lion, is looking for those believers who are lost and confused. He is looking for the ones that are spiritually starving. So to overcome the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil, feed yourself on the living bread of God, His Word!
Which brings up a third thought.
Thirdly, when you are confused. I was watching an interview with the NBA commissioner and the look on his face and the answers to the questions he was being asked showed just how confused he was by all that is happening. The truth is, we all don’t have answers. Which is a good reminder to us of our finiteness. We don’t know the future. We don’t even know all that is happening in the present. We love information because we feel like, on some level, the more information we have the less confused we will be. But the reality is, many times the more information we have, the more confused we get. This is because our minds don’t have the capacity to file it all into a coherent message. Good thing we know Someone who does!
James tells us that “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5 ESV). Interestingly, the context for this verse is overcoming trials and temptations. He tells us to turn to God for wisdom in the midst of confusion. He then goes on to say more clearly in verses 21-24:
“Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.”
The Word of God is not only to be read and believed, but applied by faith through our words and actions.
Which takes me to my final thought on this.
Fourth, when you are lacking faith. It is easy to lose heart and faith when everything is falling apart. It is only the person whose faith is firmly fixed on the Word of God who comes out the other side more refined. This makes us wonder, where does faith come from? We know that our faith is tested through trials and circumstances… but is that where faith comes from? Or is that just an opportunity to use it? Well, in fact we know that faith is not something inside of us—at least not in its origin—instead, it is given to us by God through His word.
Paul tells us in Romans that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).
If you are lacking faith in this time, the place to turn is to the Word of God. Let it renew your mind in faith (Romans 12:1). Let it grow your faith and shrink your doubts and fears.