Every day, the perfectly curated content on my social media feed bombards me. I see the gorgeous gardens, the delightful decorations, the flawless complexions, the expensive vacations, and all I can do is feel envious. But I know that love does not envy or boast.
I could never make my life appear so perfect.
Not that I haven’t tried. On the few occasions I’ve managed to bake something beautiful or my makeup looks especially nice, I post a picture. I have to, don’t I? To keep up with everyone and to make them like me, respect me, notice me?
This is the sad truth many of us have come to accept — we must show off the good, and we must gloss over and polish away the complexities and mess of our lives. We feel compelled to show off our highlight reel in order to make our lives seem more interesting than they actually are. Do we boast in our good moments to make people feel envious of us because we feel envious of them? Probably, but we’re oddly OK with that. When it comes to social media, we often let envy drive us to try to “arrive” where everyone else seemingly is. And until then? Until we achieve that illusive perfection, we live caught in the distance between our boasting and our envy.
Here’s what I mean …
We see the perfect dinner that our friend posts, and we think, I could never have her over for dinner. Not with the way I cook. A friend sees our post about how well-behaved our kids are, and she thinks, I could never plan a playdate with her, not with the way my kids act. We all create this perfect image in an attempt to earn credibility and influence, and all we’re left with is distance and jealousy.
Perhaps that’s why the Bible tells us of a better way to be in relationship with others. Love does not envy or boast, the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:4. Love doesn’t display its highlight reel but instead makes way for flawed vulnerability. Love doesn’t burn with desire for what others have but instead sees the blessings of others and finds both true joy in their abundance and also contentment in our own.
True love is rooted in selflessness, in a humility that doesn’t think less of ourselves but instead thinks about ourselves less. In a heart consumed by love for God and others, the focus is outward, not inward, which means boasting and envy have no place. It’s in this unmasked life that Christ works best in our relationships. When we share our weaknesses and limitations with others, true connection is found.
Jesus said the greatest act of love is to lay down your life for your friends (John 15:13).
That may not require us to lay down our actual lives, like Jesus did. But what if it requires us to lay down our phones when we want to post something that makes our life look flawless, realizing that it might cause envy in someone else? Or to lay down our desire to snap the perfect picture and show the social media world how wonderful a time we’re having, and instead just enjoy the moment and the people we’re with? Or to lay down our own tendency to envy the blessings of others, and instead learn what is means to truly, in our heart of hearts, rejoice with those who rejoice (Rom. 12:15).
There is no shame in sharing your life with others, no shame in celebrating the wins in public. However, when we are tempted to boast about ourselves or to envy the lives of others, let’s remember that love grows best in the soil of humility.
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