Comparing Apples to Oranges
Ah social media.
Through social media I can post a prayer request and within seconds I have my family, extended family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and the random dude that friend requested me at the local convenience store say that they are praying for me.
I can also share photos with everyone. Pictures that show how awesome life is. All the cool places I get to go, all the awesome food I eat or cook, my beautiful wife, the happy kids, and anything else that people will look at and say, “I wish I was him.”
But then I log into Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, LinkedIn, Snapchat and several others and realize that someone else is posting photos of their happy kids, their beautiful wife, their awesome food, and their cool places and, all of a sudden, my life doesn’t seem so “blessed.”
Comparing ourselves is not something that is new since the inception of social media.
Cain compared himself to Abel. Joseph’s brothers compared themselves to him. Even the disciples were not immune to the comparison trap. Jesus even had to put His disciples in their place about it.
John 21:23 – Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
Comparison is a sin plain and simple. It tells God that we are in control and not Him. First, it does this through making us feel better than others which is pride. In Luke 18:9-14 Jesus shares the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector.
Luke 18:9-14 – To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Next, comparison can make us feel worse than others, focusing on ourselves and what we are missing rather than what God has blessed us with.
It is easy even to compare God’s movement in our lives with how He moved in our lives previously. For example, if God blessed you with that promotion you might be thinking He is going to do it again. And why not? You tithe your 10%, you read your Bible regularly, you pray before every meal and bedtime, and you even shared AMEN when you saw that Facebook post. You are the perfect candidate for the promotion.
But then the promotion never comes.
God must not like something in your life since you didn’t get the promotion, right?
But what does God say about this?
Isaiah 55:8 – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
Satan wants us to believe that we deserve everything in our own timing.
We feel entitled.
If we start to let Satan lead us down the path of discontentment, we find it harder and harder to ever find true contentment.
Remember David, the man after God’s own heart? When he needed to go fight Goliath God provided for him armor. Unfortunately, the armor was too large. Did David stop what he was doing until he could find armor that fit him? No. David trusted God.
If we have trust that God is always looking for our ultimate good, then even when things don’t make a lot of sense, we can take comfort in knowing that God is right there with us, helping us to get to a place of contentment. God wants to see us transformed, not temporarily happy.
What was it that Paul said?
Philippians 4:11 – I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
Paul doesn’t say that we need to be thankful for the circumstances that we are going through. We are to be content. Paul was beaten, put into prison, stoned and even shipwrecked and yet he found contentment. He wasn’t content because of anything he did, but he was content because of everything God is.
So what should we do when we are stuck in the trap of comparing ourselves with others?
Not for what we have that others do not have. That would be acting like the Pharisee in Luke. But Praise God just like David did in the Psalms. Thank God for who HE is, not what we have. Far too often we praise God only when we feel like praising Him.
Praise isn’t a feeling. Praise is a sacrifice.
Rejoice in the Lord, always!
If we choose to rejoice in the Lord, then we won’t have time or desire to rejoice in what is going on with us. Paul was in chains when he told us to rejoice and be content. If anyone could have been comparing his strife with others, it was Paul. But he chose not to. He chose to be content in who Christ is.
The other day my wife, Mimi, and I had a huge argument. Both of us were not fulfilling our roles properly as stated in Ephesians 5 (husbands love your wife and wives respect your husband).
Did I give that moment to God?
I went upstairs, got on Facebook, and started looking at people I know who had posts about their relationships and how great they are. I started comparing my relationship with theirs and wishing for what they have.
Of course, in the back of my mind I knew that they were no better or worse off than Mimi and I, but that didn’t matter. I was listening to Satan. I was allowing myself to be oppressed by the father of lies.
After about an hour of that I realized that I was caught in sin.
I started praying and asking God to forgive me.
After our devotional, I told my wife and explained that it was a sin and the I wanted to repent of it.
To do so, I decided to do something drastic. Many of you know that I love social media. I love being on Facebook and Instagram.
I decided to deactivate both of my accounts.
I am not sure for how long they will be deactivated. The last time I did this it lasted 3 years. But for the time being, don’t look for me on Facebook or Instagram. I am going to take this time to get my heart focused more on Christ and being content in what He has provided me.
And I suggest that to many people who are on social media. Fasting from it is a good start. You could fast from social media for any length of time. Or, if you are someone that may want to come back to social media one day like myself, you can deactivate your account. The accounts are there for you to reactivate (log in with your user name and password), but you aren’t being active on them and it is more difficult to get into them. Or, if you are deciding to go cold turkey, you can delete your accounts. When you do that, however, you lose all access to anything you posted before, all media, and your user name.
So take your choice.
And maybe, in a few years, I will say to follow me back on Facebook or Instagram.
*Disclaimer* My Twitter and LinkedIn are still active for work use, so I am still on those.