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12 ways your phone is changing you - We crave immediate approval

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Intro

Good evening, welcome to Harvest Students. If you’re new here my name is Junior, I am the Assist Pastor of discipleship here at hbc, and i am excited that you have chosen to be here.
(Bibles available)
We are into our 3rd week in our series called 12 ways your phone is changing you.
We said #1 was we are addicted to distractions, #2 was We ignore our own flesh and blood.
Today we get to #3

No. 3 We crave immediate attention.

Meet Essena Oneil - a nineteen-year-old Australian model, who accumulated five hundred thousand Instagram followers. In 2015 she called it quits, deleted most of her pictures, and revised the remaining descriptions to unmask the true motives behind the images. Why the drastic move? Essena had come to see that her online life was hollow, fake, and self-centered.
(Video)
“Over-sexualization, perfect food photos, perfect travel vlogs— it is textbook how I got famous,” she admitted. But it was all part of a downward spiral she came to regret.
Basically, my self worth relied on social approval.” She assumed that she could satisfy her heart by becoming “Facebook famous” or “Instagram famous,” but as her fame grew, her life felt more and more shallow and contrived. The popularity made her feel— in her words— trapped in a cycle that became more empty, lonely, hateful, jealous, and insecure.
Today, Essena said, “I simply no longer want to compare my life with anyone else’s edited highlights. I want to put all of those hours I looked into a screen into my real life goals, personal relationships, and aspirations. I’m over this celebrity culture and obsession. It’s silly, and for the most part, internally lonely and fake.”
Today, Essena said, “I simply no longer want to compare my life with anyone else’s edited highlights. I want to put all of those hours I looked into a screen into my real life goals, personal relationships, and aspirations. I’m over this celebrity culture and obsession. It’s silly, and for the most part, internally lonely and fake.”
I don’t want to look to others for how I should live, speak, and create.”
I don’t want to look to others for how I should live, speak, and create.”
Most tragically, Essena admitted that she had mindlessly offered her body up for public admiration, posting selfies in order to be told she was beautiful and attractive. “Being born into this screen-dominated age, we are taught to mold ourselves in order to gain the most social validation [likes, views, and followers across social media],” she said. “I’ve simply taken myself out of the sculpting studio. I don’t want to look to others for how I should live, speak, and create.” 5 In the end, she said, “I was a living paradox of conditional self-love and constant self-hate. Basically, my self worth relied on social approval.” She assumed that she could satisfy her heart by becoming “Facebook famous” or “Instagram famous,” but as her fame grew, her life felt more and more shallow and contrived. The popularity made her feel— in her words— trapped in a cycle that became more empty, lonely, hateful, jealous, and insecure.
Reinke, Tony. 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You (p. 66). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
Reinke, Tony. 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You (pp. 65-66). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
If we are honest with ourselves we sometimes crave some sort of approval. It may not be to the same degree of as Essena, but to the degree that we think that we should be the center of attention for others. Sometimes only to find ourselves empty in our beds at night.
Reinke, Tony. 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You (p. 65). Crossway. Kindle Edition. If we are honest with ourselves in some way we all crave some sort of attention.
Whether it’s the approval of a parent, sibling, relative, friend, neighbor, coworker, class mate, celebrity, politician etc. You name it, at some point we have learned the skill of being “an approval attention grabber”, and sometimes we will do anything to get the approval of ppl around us.
You may be thinking “Well what’s so wrong with that?” You might ask!

So here are 3 ways craving for immediate approval is wrong:

It reflects our insecurity. - Insecurity is when a person is not confident or sure: uncertain, not highly stable or well-adjusted, deficient in assurance: beset by fear and anxiety. When someone is insecure, they show signs that they are discontent with their own value/worth so they look for approval to fill that void.
not confident or sure: uncertain〉
2:not adequately guarded or sustained: unsafe 〈an insecure investment〉
3:not firmly fastened or fixed: shaky 〈the hinge is loose and insecure
4a: not highly stable or well-adjusted 〈an insecure marriage〉
b: deficient in assurance: beset by fear and anxietyWhen someone is insecure, they are ignorant and/or discontent with their own value/worth so they look for approval to fill that void.
Psalm 103:2–5 ESV
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
2. It reflects our ignorance - Any knowledgeable person would know that approval from others cannot permanently fill you, your worth and meaning in life can only ultimately come from God.
Psalm 145:15–16 ESV
15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. 16 You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
3. It reflects our Idolatry - The worship or adoration of anyone or anything other than the Lord God. We should know by now that any pursuit that takes up most of your time, talent, and treasure is a pursuit that is more important to you than the Creator Himself. That’s Idolatry.
The worship or adoration of anyone or anything other than the Lord GodWe should know by now that any pursuit that takes up most of your time, talent, and treasure is a pursuit that is more important to you than the Creator Himself. That’s Idolatry.
Exodus 20:1–6 ESV
1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
So what do we do? How do we fight against this tendency to crave for approval?
We are not saying that if you don’t have a phone this will not happen, we are saying that ultimately the problem isn’t the thing/phone, it’s the user/phone owner.
For example:
I am very aware of some of your parents cooking skills, when they are preparing food they use certain tools: Pots, pans, bowls, blender, grater, etc. and many more. One tool that they use is a knife, they chop up vegetables, meat and so on, and then when it is all finished cooking, we taste the end product. In the same way that your parent uses that knife for the good of preparing a meal for you and the rest of the family, someone else a knife to hurt someone else.
We can no more blame the knife for your parent’ tasty food, than we can blame knife for the persons death. The blame must be on the evil motive of the person who hurt another.
Matt 6:1-
So what
It is not your phone that is making you crave approval it’s your heart.
Rather than using them to fulfill some fleshly desire, your phones have so much potential to be used for good, but it’s your heart that forms the motives for its use.
Matthew 6:1–16 ESV
1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
.
Let’s talk about motives for a moment.
gives us a bright picture of the some persons who did stuff for immediate approval, let’s look at the life of a pharisee for a second. The pharisees was a Jewish religious party whose members required a very strict commitment to the ritual/ceremonial law (e.g. hand washing, offerings, prayers) and to the traditions of those who came b4 them.
Jesus speaking he says
A Jewish religious party whose members required a very strict adherence to the ritual law and to the traditions of their predecessors.
1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
It’s not that it’s wrong to be seen doing something good, it’s that it’s wrong to want to be seen doing something good. The sin is not in the action itself it’s in the why! What is the motive?
. 5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
Jesus touches on some key areas where these pharisees are being hypocritical or approval junkies. Giving so others could see their generosity vs 1-4, praying so others could see their eloquent prayers vs 5—6, and fasting so others could big them up for their strictness to fasting vs 16-18.
The context here is that the religious leaders of the day wanted to behave as though they had it all together, they did everything to gain the approval of the people, to appear to others as though they’re generous, and kind but deep down they’re not.
It’s not that it’s wrong to be seen doing something good, it’s that it’s wrong to want to be seen doing something good. The sin is not in the action itself, it’s in the why! What is the motive?
In all of the cases in this passage Jesus is saying if your desire is the approval of men, you can take it and stuff it! But that empty dissatisfied feeling will always be there. If your motive is wrong, the means (how you try to get what you want), will be wrong as well, and most certainly the result is not going to last. You will just end up being an approval junky.
3 P’s of an approval junky!
Peer pressure - Doing something which you do not want to do because you are afraid to say ‘No’, Behaving in a non-conforming manner in order to draw attention to yourself, Any behaviour which is contrary to your identity and purpose, or conflicts with your core beliefs, is generally done to gain the approval of someone else. E.g. there’s someone that you pick on /cyber bully, trolling etc. just b/cause you want to be in the in crowd.
Poor standards - Changing or softening your position because someone appears to disapprove, Failing to complain when you have received poor service or a product not fit for purpose, Attempting to coax people into paying you compliments and/or getting upset when they fail to do so. So an artist comes out with a catch phrase “unruly” “detta boss”, “4th genna”, “man’s not hot”
Pretense - Paying insincere compliments to gain approval, Expressing agreement (verbally or non-verbally) when you do not agree, Spreading bad news and gossip to gain attention, Pretending to be knowledgeable or an authority on a subject because you are afraid to admit that there is something you do not know. E.g so you see something discussed on the internet, and because you want approval from the individuals in the conversation you say something totally unrelated to the subject.
But online attention proves to be an poor substitute for true intimacy, and the addiction to a crafted online image renders true intimacy impossible.
Reinke, Tony. 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You (p. 69). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
Living for an audience of one:
So what’s the solution to that type of craving?
John 12:27–43 ESV
27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
-43
Why was it so hard for them to celebrate Christ? Simple— public approval forbade it.
So many of you are like these pharisees, you see the signs that Jesus is who he says he is, but for fear of the ones you want approval from you will not accept him as savior and lord. You fear that if you follow Christ, the world, your social media friends will unfollow you. You will be shunned. You will be despised, you will have their disapproval.
What do we fear more, the disapproval of God or the disappearance of our online followers?
Christians today still face real-life glory wars and real-life tensions inside the digital world. So what do we fear more, the disapproval of God or the disappearance of our online followers?
Living for an audience of one:
You are way more valuable
God’s approval lasts forever, man’s approval is temporary and does not satisfy.
John Piper says “In a solid, God-chosen relationship with Jesus, man’s disapproval cannot hurt you and man’s approval cannot satisfy you.
Reinke, Tony. 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You (p. 74). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
You’re rich.
The sad truth is that many of us are addicted to our phones because we crave immediate approval and affirmation. We want to be loved and accepted by others, so we wash away our scars and defects with a “valencia” filter.
The buzz of social approval has conditioned us to feed on “regular micro-bursts of validation given by every like, favorite, retweet, or link.” 31 This new conditioning means that our lives become more dependent on the moment-by-moment approval of others.
The problem is not just that we need to turn away from these micro-bursts of approval, but that we must deprogram ourselves from this online hunger. If we don’t detox these habits, we will go on seeking intimacy by reproducing ourselves, bingeing on man’s approval, and starting each day with an approval hangover.
Are you like essena? An approval junky? Or are you looking for lasting approval? Do you want to remain an addict or be free to love who God created you to be and work by his Spirit to change what he hasn’t?
Reinke, Tony. 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You (p. 76). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
I can guarantee that if you live for an audience of your social media likes, followers, and comments you will never be satisfied. But living for an audience of one, the one who loves you the most, is everlasting.
Would you trust Him today? Surrender your lives to him. Being a christian does not mean you get a perfect life, it does mean you get the approval of a perfect savior.
Living for an audience of one:

Small Group Discussion

How does my smartphone habits reveal a compulsive desire to be seen and affirmed?
Reinke, Tony. 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You (pp. 69-70). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
What are some ways you crave immediate attention?
Is your heart set on becoming a celebrity in this life or a hero in the next? Why? Why not?
Is your heart set on becoming a celebrity in this life or a hero in the next? Why? Why not?
Do you want your approval and fame now, or can you wait for an eternal crown?
Do you want your approval and fame now, or can you wait for an eternal crown?
Reinke, Tony. 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You (p. 70). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
Reinke, Tony. 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You (p. 78). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
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