Biblical Principles to Help us Navigate the News
The news has become part of our everyday lives. My phone goes off at least once a week with a breaking news story. Last night I was alerted that Elon Musk bought twitter. Yahoo puts a bright red banner across the top of the page. How can you not click a bright red banner? Companies use provocative titles, so you click their story.
How should we as Christians read the news? I am going to start out by saying there are no hard and fast rules. I am not going to give you time limits or recommend certain new sources. I believe these principles can apply if you read one news article a day or fifteen a day. These principles will apply if you watch Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, or some any other news source.
Start with God (Proverbs 1:1-7, 9:10)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. We need God at the center before we can have a true understanding about what is going on in the world. Read the Bible before you read the news. Set your mind on the things of Christ! God is at work amid a sinful and broken world. A good thing to do is ask yourself, “where is God in this story?”
Hold on to God (Proverbs 3:5-7)
Proverbs calls us to trust in God with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding. There is hope even when the news story paints a gloomy picture. We don’t know all the things that God is doing. We can think we have all the answers, but we only know a few details. The all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise God, knows what He is doing.
Genesis 37-50 are some of my favorite chapters in the Bible. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, wrongly accused by his boss’s wife, and forgot about in prison. His conclusion at the end is what man meant for evil, God meant for good. We read the news and see only evil, but we can trust God to be who He says He is. We can hold onto His promises
The Wicked will not Prosper forever (Proverbs 3:33-35, 28:18, Psalm 37)
It can seem like the wicked are prospering. It seems like the evil people are getting away with all their sins. Things are not always the way that they seem. The truth is that one day God will bring all this to an end. God is a just God who will not let the sinner go unpunished. Remember God’s character as you read the news. Remember the outcome for the wicked as they continue in their ways. Use this as a reminder to pray for the sinner. Maybe God’s patience will lead the evil person to repentance.
Gather all the Facts (Proverbs 18:17)
Proverbs 18:17 has court room imagery. The one who states his case first seems right, until someone comes to examine him. Breaking news is coming so fast that it matters more to break a news story than get all the facts straight. We need to get all the facts before we come to conclusions.
A few years ago, a person posted a story about a man who was watching kids get off the bus. I saw the story because it took place in a town near St. Cloud. This story blew up and this guy’s reputation was ruined. The truth is the guy parked his truck so he could look up the address to his son’s new house.
Facts matter when we want to understand the news. Get news from multiple sources. It doesn’t mean that all sources are equally trustworthy, but it helps wade through bias that can be found in the news
Check your Emotions as you Read (Proverbs 4:23, 25:28, 29:11)
It is easy to reads the news and get despondent or angry. Some of those emotions may be valid. It is hard to see news coverage of war and not feel depressed. I read news articles about evil people doing evil things and it makes me angry. I pray that it is righteous anger! We still need to check our emotions or at least ask why we are angry or depressed.
I know I can get anxious when the economy isn’t doing well. I can get mad when I read a news article about increased taxes. Is some other idol being stepped on that is causing me to be mad? Does God care about the issue for the same reason that I care? We should be adamantly opposed to sin and hold our personal opinions loosely.
Pray as you Read (Proverbs 15:8, 15:29)
God hears the prayers of the righteous person. The sorrows and pains of the world should cause us to run to the one who is in control of all things. He hears our prayers. I believe that prayer is a powerful tool in the Christian life. Continue to keep coming back to God! He is the one who can change things, including our hearts.