I love Facebook. Most of the time, anyway.
Here’s why. In my 50 plus years of life I’ve lived and worked in numerous locations. My “tribe” is scattered all over the globe. Gone are the days when the majority of people a person knows is in one location. As a result, we lose contact with people who once were a significant part of our lives. Facebook has changed that for me to a large degree. I’ve been grateful to be able to reconnect and stay in contact with many I hadn’t connected with for years.
That’s the plus side of social media. And it’s huge. I’m beyond grateful for it and the people I get to connect with who are important to me.
Unfortunately, it also has its downsides.
While it’s a great place to share what’s going on in our lives, we tend to pick and choose what we share. That’s not all bad, of course. There’s wisdom in using discretion in what we make public. But unlike community together in one location where our “tribe” sees everything whether we want them to or not, we can choose to share only those elements of our lives which paint a picture that may or may not be entirely accurate. Knowing that others are likely also cherry picking what they share can give us perspective when we’re tempted to do what the Apostle Paul said is not wise to do: compare and measure ourselves by each other.
He said in 2 Corinthians 10: 12: “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”
Comparison is probably the biggest destroyer of contentment, the greatest cause of jealousy and pride, and the primary reason we judge and condemn others
Not much good results when we play the comparing game. When we compare, we either tend to compare our “bad” with another’s “good,” which leads to discontentment and jealousy; or we compare our “good” with their “bad,” which leads to pride and condemnation of others.
What better place to play the comparing game than on social media! If scrolling through Facebook makes you discontented with your own life or proud over what you have and others don’t, shutting down your account isn’t the answer. We can blame social media until we’re blue in the face, but it isn’t the problem. We are. Discontentment, jealousy, and judgment of others from comparing ourselves with other people are human nature problems as old as Bible times.
Peter didn’t need Facebook to make him compare himself with John
In John 21, Jesus told Peter, “’When you were young, you would tie your belt and walk wherever you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will tie you and carry you where you don’t want to go.’ He said this to signify by what kind of death he would glorify God…. So Peter turned around and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them…. When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord — what about him?’ ‘If I want him to remain until I come,’ Jesus answered, ‘what is that to you? As for you, follow Me.’”
If we listen carefully to the Holy Spirit while we’re on social media, I have no doubt but that He’s saying the same to us when we start feeling jealous because Angela just bought the house we’ve always dreamed of, Dave and his wife have the exact number of kids we’d always planned to have, Jeff landed the dream job we’d aspired to achieve, and Michelle is on the vacation we wish we could take.
Jesus tells us in those instances the same thing He told Peter, “What is that to you? As for you, follow Me.”
What is important is that we’re living the life He has called us to live, not what someone else is living.
Martha didn’t need Facebook to make her compare herself with Mary
When Jesus visited in the home of sisters Mary and Martha, Martha got busy preparing a meal to serve their guest. But Mary sat with Jesus and listened to what He had to say. Martha compared what Mary was doing to what she was doing, and became upset. Surely taking care of your guest was the most important activity of the moment, she thought. Why couldn’t Mary see that? Why couldn’t Jesus see it?
And so she stepped up to them and said, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.”
Whoa! Did you catch that? She just judged Mary for making her serve alone, and she judged Jesus for not caring! And then she told Jesus what to do. We wouldn’t dream of doing that, would we?
Come to think of it, I do recall praying prayers that were just as judgmental:
“Lord, don’t you care that I’m all alone in this life?”
“God, convict so-and-so that what they’re doing is wrong!”
And, if I listen carefully, I can hear the Holy Spirit saying to me something similar to what Jesus said to Martha: “You are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary.”
That one thing is following Jesus in what He has asked me to do, even if He’s not told anyone else to do that thing and I’m misunderstood and judged by others as a result. It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t tell Martha she should sit down at His feet like Mary did. After all, someone did need to prepare a meal. It was time to eat. But He also affirmed Mary as making the right choice for her, while telling Martha she shouldn’t let that worry and upset her.
He does the same for us. When we follow His calling on our lives He affirms our choices and encourages us to affirm others in theirs.
Accepting One Another
“Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice. Therefore accept one another, just as the Messiah also accepted you, to the glory of God.” (Romans 15:5-7)
If we’re living the exact same life as someone else, one of us isn’t living the life God created us to live. He created each of us uniquely different because He has a unique plan and purpose for each of us. Realizing this truth prevents discontentment, jealousy and condemnation from thinking our lives need to be the same as someone else’s, or theirs like ours, to be “okay.” God wants us to live in harmony with each other and to value and encourage each other in our differences.
So enjoy your daily scroll through your Facebook feed and use it as a prompt to celebrate the uniqueness of each person and how different they and their lives are to yours. Look for ways to affirm and encourage others in their calling and purpose by “liking” and commenting on their posts that share that purpose with you. View the ways they are different as reminders of the unique calling God has on your life and the way He is working through you to further His Kingdom in ways He isn’t using anyone else. It’s more than okay to be different — it’s crucial to knowing whether you’re living your purpose!
We serve an awesome God who is able to design each of the billions of people who have ever lived uniquely different from anyone else. Let’s celebrate that today in every way we can!