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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, February 23 2023

You can overcome gaming addiction

Video game addiction is becoming more common. It often begins as a relaxing pastime, but over time develops into something consumed in excess, limiting the opportunity to experience other meaningful activities. In Ephesians 5:15-16 we are reminded of the importance of “redeeming the time”.

by Heidi Braun

The Bible addresses the issue of letting something physical control you: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful [or expedient]. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Corinthians 6:12).

The phrase “all things are lawful” does not mean we can do anything we want. There are definitely some actions described as sinful in the same chapter. This verse is telling us something that may not be sin, may still not be helpful to one’s growth as a Christian.

Video games may allow us to relax and unwind, but moderation is key. We can often be enticed to spend an excessive amount of time gaming. For instance a notification may be sent to your phone, reminding you of a “daily challenge” which must be completed within a certain time frame. Muting these notifications can help alleviate the temptation. There are also applications to limit gaming time for phones, computers and other electronics which may prove useful. Recording your daily schedule for a few days may also make you more aware of how you use your time, and give you a chance to reallocate some of the time you may be wasting.

Asking a reliable friend to check in on an app like Discord when you’re getting close to the time limit you set yourself for the day, or scheduling multiplayer gaming time can help you keep each other accountable. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 illustrates the importance of teamwork in overcoming struggles such as addiction: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.”

The hardest time to resist temptation is when you’re tired and have free time on your hands. Hence, evenings may be the easiest time to fall into a late-night gaming binge. If you can’t control the urge to play games late at night, keep the electronics in another room. Scripture indicates that the answer to temptation is to flee from it (2 Timothy 2:22).

Ephesians 4:22-24 reminds us that we can’t just stop behaving in a certain way—each of us must “put on the new man”. That is, we have to replace old habits with new actions. Even if you don’t fall into the same bad habit, it’s not uncommon to fall into another. For example, you might walk away from the game when your time limit is up, but then spend the same amount of time watching TV. Sometimes changing your environment completely, like going for a walk or driving to a coffee shop, can help.

An addiction to video games is not an easy struggle to overcome. Take it to God in prayer and even on the days when you relapse, remember “a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again” (Proverbs 24:16). Don’t let it prevent you from making the next day a success, as Paul’s encouragement to the Philippian church teaches us: “... forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).