Faith Bible Blog

Information and Reflections for the FBC Family

Mind Matters

If you think about it, our minds are truly one of the most precious things we possess. Just the act of thinking entails an incredibly complex set of processes within our brains. Arguably, one of most magnificent creative acts ever undertaken by our glorious God was when He fashioned the human brain. For example, consider just a few facts about our brains[1]:

  • On average the brain weighs 2-3 pounds, yet it contains 100 billion specialized nerve cells working in perfect harmony processing 70,000 impressions per minute.
  • It stores millions of bits of data, sorting them by type and category each day.
  • It automatically provides minute by minute regulation and oversight of breathing, blood pressure, digestion, body temperature, and muscular function, in all types of situations and environments.
  • From the womb to age 6 the brain reaches 90% of its adult size.
  • A number of brains working together designed and produced the super computer called “Watson” which can execute 1 billion transactions in 1 second!

No wonder King David wrote in Psalm139:34:”I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Brain-Mind Connection

As God’s unique image bearers we have been created with the ability to think, reason, interpret information, and make judgments. Our brains play an important part in this process. They’re designed to serve as instruments through which our inner person interacts with God, others, and the world in and around us. God’s ultimate purpose for creating our brains and our very existence is to know and glorify Him (John 17:1-3; 1 Corinthians 10:31).

 Because our minds are so important Scripture speaks a lot about them. Words such as mind, thinking, and thoughts appear 332 times in the Bible and represent the mental and moral faculties of a person. Scripture tells us God is very interested in our minds! For example, you and I are to:

“love the Lord your God with all your….mind (Matthew 22:38)

“renew our minds” (Romans 12:3)

“be made new in the attitude of our minds (Ephesians 4:23)

“prepare our minds for action” (1 Peter 1:13)

“set your mind on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:2)

“have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16)

 Guarding Your Mind

Clearly, the state and health of our brains is really important! It is directly linked to the state and health of our minds. And our minds provide the means through which we know, love and glorify God. As Christians, it’s no wonder we are called to steward what enters and affects our brain/minds! (Matt.18:6-9) Therefore, Scripture and plain reason tells us anything that could harm or damage our brains/minds should be avoided. For example, a couple of obvious things to avoid would be illicit drugs and alcohol abuse. These two practices alone account for billions in healthcare and societal costs as well as untold destruction in people’s lives. In contrast, we as believers are to “not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

Less obvious to most are the effects of social media on our brains.

 Over the past decade an increasing body of research has demonstrated excessive social media use produces a number of negative effects on our brains. Researchers have found the ability to concentrate, retain information, and relate to others is negatively affected with increasing social media use[2]. We are not talking small potatoes here – Facebook alone has 1.23 billon users globally, with Twitter coming in a 555 million worldwide[3]!

Impact of Digital Technology: The Good, the Bad and You

 There is no question the development of information technology (IT) has contributed greatly to the benefit of society in almost every sphere of life – education, medicine, food science, engineering, national defense, and the spread of the gospel just to name a few! However, daily use of social media has its drawbacks. Our brains are incredible creations designed to learn, adapt, and adjust to stimuli.

The technical term for this brain feature is “neuroplasticity.” Like the word sounds, our brains are highly moldable and shapeable. Everything that enters it has an effect on it! Research shows that over time social media use produces a powerful response in the “pleasure centers” of our brains, the same area of the brain where heroin, nicotine and cocaine produce their additive effects. Using social media often causes the same kind of pleasure-center driven addiction as these powerful drugs.

Don’t believe me? Consider these stats[4]:

  • The average Facebook user spends 405 minutes (6.75hrs) on the site a month. (In my unscientific survey of co-workers and family the average was much higher – 2 hours per day!)
  • In a study of people 18-85 using a rating scale from” strong to irresistible” they reported resisting urges to use Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites for one week was harder than resisting Smoking, Drinking, Spending Money, Sleeping and Sex!
  • Typically people spend 30-40% on conversations about themselves; on social media it grows to 80-90%
  • One study showed classic drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms occurring within one day of stopping social media use. (Want to find out for yourself? Stop using social media for one week!)

So, how now shall we live as believers in light of these things?

Here’s some practical tips to follow:

1. Don’t be a scoffer. Test yourself. Are you spending too much time on social media sites? Be honest – is it controlling you? Using social media more than 6-7 hours a month is most likely a problem.

“He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise” (Proverbs 15:31)

2. The research on social media and brain function is real. If you are using it regularly it is affecting your brain’s pleasure centers. It has a high addiction potential.

“All things are lawful to me, but not all things are profitable” (1 Corinthians 6:12)

3. Social media can be a pride-stimulating environment. It often tempts us to self-obsession or self-absorption.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself” (Philippians 2:3)

4. Our brains are precious and need proper care and feeding. Use social media in moderation. For some of us that may mean not at all.

“All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12b)

A mind is a terrible thing to waste!

[1] BrainFacts,org

[2] Why Social Media Is Dangerous For Your Brain: Ari Herzog

[3] Wikipedia Dec.2013

[4] Your Brain on Social Media; Social Media

Author: Peter Spiers

Peter is an executive with CFA, a national healthcare consulting firm, and invests all his off-work time into his church and his family. He is faithful to invest his life into men and loves to see people transformed by God's Word.

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