By Calley Sivils
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.” (Romans 12:15)
Social media has infiltrated nearly every aspect of daily life. We now have continuous, highlight reels of others’ shiny moments, edited emotions and scripted thoughts shining into our eyes everywhere we turn, even from our pockets.
We Christ followers must toil to keep these tools from becoming idolatrous in our hearts, and wemust determine to have a God-ward gaze if we are to walk faithfully as children of God.
The fact that God defers or denies some of our dreams changes nothing about His goodness.
An Avenue of Envy
Social media gives you a front row seat to watch everyone else — believers and non-believers — get everything you’ve ever wanted. You can either let these opportunities be a tool for Satan or sanctification, bear the fruit of exultation or the fruit of envy.
You will be bombarded by dazzling wedding photos of those people you wanted to marry. You will either pray for their marriages or prey on their feeds.
You will scroll through dozens of adventure photos, reveling vicariously in them. You will either praise God for His wondrous creation, or you will wonder why He hasn’t given you the same finances or opportunities.
You will watch men and women post photos of bodies you can only dream of having and receive adoration. You can either pray they would come to know that they and their applause are mere dust (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20), or you can wallow in the flesh, testifying that the perfect God’s one mistake was making you the way you are.
As we view social media, we must train our hearts to be ever questioning: Would I trade my eternity for this fleeting, created thing? Is a few thousand eyes of creatures worth more than the sinless blood of the Creator? Do I obey God’s commandments or the culture’s voices?
So much of this wrestling boils down to how we answer the question, “What is Goodness?”
Our definition of goodness has been marred by prosperity mentality, skewed by the American dream and drained by biblical illiteracy. “Good” does not entail everything we want. You might want good things, even things the Bible praises, but such desire does not mean they are the best for you at this moment or in this lifetime. The only antidote is resting in the sure truth that every believer, no matter their status or circumstances in life, will only experience the full measure of goodness when we are in the presence of the only good Person in existence—the Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.
The Self-Centeredness of Envy
If envy leads us to focus on ourselves, then it cannot foster love (1 Corinthians 13:5). If envy denies love, then it is contrary to the nature of God who is and defines love (1 John 4:8) and commands us not to covet (Exodus 20:17) but to trust Him (Proverbs 3:5).
God did not bless others to spite you. Indeed, the way God has, in infinite wisdom, chosen to bless them had nothing to do with you or them and everything do with His goodness (Matthew 5:44-45). He is a good God — even to those who don’t praise or acknowledge Him as such. When we think any other reality is governing their blessings or our perceived lack of blessings, we declare in our hearts that He is not worthy and His ways are not good (enough for us) and ultimately that He is not omnipotent.
But God is omnipotent. It was completely in His power to place us in a different life with everything our hearts—the ones He crafted—would desire.
But sometimes he chooses not to give them to us.
The fact that God defers or denies some of our dreams changes nothing about His goodness and everything about our circumstances.
We are called to humility before the Lord, not to try and ferret out the reasoning (be “wise in our own sight”) that we have this life and others have their lives. We are still called to rejoice with the rejoicing, weep with the weeping and live in harmony with those who have everything we’ve ever wanted. And we’re still called to worship.
Make no mistake: as you devour your multiple social media feeds, they will devour you in return. If you wallow in coveting the lives of others, it will harden your heart toward God and trample on your ability to love and serve the Church. Your heart will be left empty, nothing more than a breeding ground of darkness where the slimiest inner thoughts fester. Proverbs 14:30 makes this clear: “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh but envy makes the bones rot.”
Growing trust in Him is the only antidote to the powerful and even pleasurable poison of envy. Call that to mind as envy grips your heart. Hold fast. Because if the God of the Bible is who He reveals Himself to be, then all we have missed in this life will be returned to us infinity-fold in a single, glorious moment: when our eyes meet the Savior’s.