I enjoy Facebook – probably too much. The social media site keeps me connected with friends and family, lets me enjoy photos and stories from people I have known through the years. I see some who are apparently enjoying an amazing life – trips to far-flung places with the love of their life, bodies that are fit and beautiful, smiles all around. I am ashamed to admit that occasionally, I find myself slipping into envy wondering why I do not have their experience. Then, I remember that Facebook allows people to craft an image, to show only the good stuff. I also choose to be thankful for them and for my life which allows me to reset to a place of contentment.
Envy is a common sin, so prevalent that God chose to include a prohibition of it in the Decalogue: “You must not covet … “ Wanting our neighbor’s life is a sure way to be unhappy and robs us of God’s peace!
Think about this-
Do you desire the Lord’s approval above all else?
Will you let His path for you today be a source of praise and delight, or will you ‘dance for the applause of the crowd?’
Paul knew the pressure of social approval. There were other preachers around him who were gaining crowds, taking the more difficult parts of the Message out of their sermons to please people. They boasted of their spiritual visions, speaking with eloquence. And, people ate it up. Paul’s message was one that called for commitment to a path of discipleship, leaving no room for ‘self.’ His reason for his single-minded devotion comes through these words. “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10, NIV)
Comparing ourselves to others has another downside, too. It makes us into judges. Jesus forbade that. “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1-2, NLT) Let’s say you have been disciplined and lost a lot of weight. You may be tempted to look around and see others who are overweight and who are dealing with health problems. If you are given to comparison, you are going to judge them. “Why don’t they stop eating all that junk? Why don’t they take charge of their life? They’re so weak.” And in that judgment, you turn into a mean person and happiness is stolen from you.
The way to joy is found in pleasing God; looking up, not around. Comparison is not even reasonable. None of us has exactly the same experiences, backgrounds, or advantages. We cannot hope to replicate the life of anyone else nor should we expect anyone to replicate ours. The Bible is abundantly clear that God knows and loves each one of us as unique persons. God’s grace finds us in our sin and is sufficient to lead us to a place where we can be who He wants us to be. You are not valuable because your body is some ‘ideal’ size, because you drive a certain car, or because live in a home straight out of Good Housekeeping. God does not love you more if your job enjoys social prestige.
Are you comparing?
Are you trying hard to achieve some ideal based on another’s life?
Are you craving the approval and applause of friends?
You will be unhappy! Thankfulness will elude you because those goals are a mirage, always out there on the horizon: shimmering, beautiful, and elusive.
Here is wisdom from the Word, a sure way to be joyful thankful. Read it, believe it, and – by God’s grace – live it. “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse … I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” (Philippians 4:8,12-13, The Message)
Choose to be thankful.
Change your life to meet God’s call.
Contentment will be your blessing.
Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given
Jesus Christ His Son
And now let the weak say I am strong
Let the poor say I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us
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