Do commercials really matter? Is 3o seconds or even 1 minute of information going to affect my life in any significant way? The answer is YES! Companies wouldn’t be spending millions of dollars to get your attention if it wasn’t effective.
I watch TV occasionally but not much. I think watching TV can be one of the biggest wastes of time in our already busy schedules. One of the things that I really dislike about TV watching is that it is so passive. We truly do become ‘Couch Potatoes’ in our comfortable easy chairs. It often takes little effort on our part to engage in our program or commercial that we are watching. We just sit there and take it in. The show tells us ‘what to see’ and often times ‘what to think’ about its content. There’s usually no imagination necessary to watch a TV program or commercial. They lay it all out for you.
Do you ever question whether what you are watching is good or evil, holy or sinful, wise or unwise? If we are going to obey the Scriptures then we will always have our ‘thinking caps’ on. Proverbs 4:23 exhorts us.
“Guard your hearts with all diligence, for out of them spring the issues of life.”(Proverbs 4:23)
Diligence means constant, persevering effort. One of the catch phrases of our ministry is ‘Getting people to THINK ABOUT what they THINK ABOUT. Don’t get me wrong, I occasionally like to watch TV to just relax. However, the days of just passively sitting in front of a TV set are over; at least if I want to be a committed follower of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 exhorts us to,
“Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
In a balanced lifestyle it may be OK to occasionally watch TV to just relax but it is never OK to let down our ‘spiritual guards’ in the name of relaxation; EVEN WHEN IT COMES TO COMMERCIALS.
If you’ve ever been to one of my seminars than you have heard me share stories of how my wife and I taught our kids to shut off the commercials when watching TV. When our children were very young we didn’t watch many commercials. Whenever the shows took a commercial brake we often times pressed the off button on our TV set. You may be thinking, “Isn’t that a bit fanatical? My response is, “Do you think that it’s fanatical for Companies to spend millions of dollars for a 30 second commercial during the Super bowl? They wouldn’t be spending that kind of cash unless they were confident that it would affect your thinking and lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not insinuating that every commercial out there has some horrible ulterior motive. Some advertising is nothing more than presenting to us a product that we want or need in our lives. There are some really creative and funny commercials that I show at my seminars. However, not all of the commercials out there are positive. In fact, I believe that two of the greatest goals of most advertising are for you and I to be DISCONTENT with ‘what we have’ and ‘who we are’. We’re often told that if we don’t look a certain way or have a certain product we’re not as popular, cool, funny, desirable, etc. in today’s society. In fact we can’t happy unless we possess their product. God has other thoughts about contentment.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world,
and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”(1 Timothy 6:6-8)
This Scripture is a far cry from today’s philosophy that ‘whoever dies with the most toys wins’. One of the greatest benefits of turning off commercials in our house was that it produced contentment in our family. My kids were not constantly whining and complaining about what they didn’t have because they weren’t constantly listening to someone tell them that they NEEDED THESE THINGS. As my kids grew older and became teenagers we no longer shut off all of the commercials. However, we still shut off the evil and unwise commercials as we sought to GUARD OUR HEARTS WITH ALL DILIGENCE.
I exhort you to try a ‘commercial fast’ for a period of time in your home. See if it makes a difference in your attitude toward material possessions. Even if you don’t stop watching commercials entirely, I would like to suggest an activity that you and your family can do together.
Set aside one evening when you can examine commercials together. Watch several commercials and then discuss the following questions.
• ARE THEY TRYING TO SELL ME A PRODUCT OR A LIFESTYLE AND IMAGE?
• WHAT’S THE SPOKEN AND UNSPOKEN MESSAGE?
• IS THERE SOMETHING ABOUT THE PRODUCT THEY’RE NOT TELLING ME?
• IS THERE A LIE BEING TOLD? IF SO, WHAT’S THE TRUTH?
• DO I REALLY NEED THIS PRODUCT OR ARE THEY TRYING TO CREATE A NEED IN MY LIFE?
You may even want to play a fun game together called ‘expose the lie’. As everyone watches commercials see who can be the first to pick out the lies in the commercial. You can have prizes for whoever wins. This game and all of the above questions are a great way to teach your family media discernment.