Seeing Past the Instagram Façade – James 3:13-19

AMH Series // His Word is Written Across My Heart

We live in the Instagram era.  We see something cute, we snap a pic.  We want to feel beautiful, so we take a photo with just the right lighting, and we edit the photo so it has just the right color tones. So it fits our Instagram theme.  

This mindset isn’t limited strictly to social media.  It’s even in the way we present ourselves. Before we step outside, we usually pull our act together.  Put on a smile. Put on a ‘nice’ attitude.  Maybe make our voice a little higher so we can sound a bit friendlier.  We put on a mask to cover up the dirtiness inside us.  It’s what I call the Instagram Façade.

The Cost of Comparison

Why can’t I look like her?  How come my personality isn’t as pleasant to be around?  Why don’t I have a boyfriend? These are questions that have plagued my mind as I have compared myself to people around me.  I see the pictures on Instagram. That one where she looks like a model. I’ll never look like that.  That one where she’s with her brand new boyfriend. I’ll never find a guy who values me like that.  

The enemy of our souls whispers lies into our hearts.  He knows where we fail. He knows our insecurities. One of his biggest weapons is using our own selfish hearts against us.  We fall prey to the all-too-easy trap of comparison. We want what that person has. We wallow in envy and bitterness. The joy and peace in our hearts is stripped.  We can only think about what we don’t have.

We are tempted to not only believe the Instagram Façade, but also live it.  We don’t want others to see the not-so-beautiful parts of us. But we know it’s there.  Recently I was having coffee with a dear friend. She pointed out that it’s never even playing ground.  We compare the best part of people with the part of us that we’re ashamed of. But we forget that they have junk too.  So we instead let bitterness and envy enter into our hearts.

The Truth about Comparison

James, who was the earthly brother of Jesus, has a few things to say about this bitterness and envy which can take root in our lives. In James 3:13-16 we read, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by his deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.  But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.  For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”

What a powerfully direct passage of Scripture!  James does not shy away from a shocking truth. What the world calls “wisdom” (which is referring to envy and selfish ambition), is actually of the devil.  

The world we live in encourages us to become better versions of ourselves.  We are surrounded with messages in the media of how we can attain something better.  Whether it’s a blatant message or as ‘innocent’ as a perfectly posed Instagram post, we are bombarded with standards that we try to attain.  But we fail to. So then what do we do? We allow bitterness to fester inside us, wishing we were the ones that had that perfect body, or that boyfriend, or that [insert blank].  We let the culture tell us what will satisfy us. What will make us truly happy. The Instagram Façade has set its trap.  There are so many voices we hear, and they all contradict one another. We feel overwhelmed and lost. So we have a pity-party and let selfish thoughts control our minds.

Does this picture sound familiar?  It certainly does to me. It’s so overwhelming!  James 3:16 says, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”  Disorder.  Every evil practice.  That certainly is what the messages we hear seem like.  And what does it say the root is? Envy and selfish ambition.  When we compare ourselves and envy others, it stems from a root of self-love.  We want to feel satisfied and loved.  But so often we look to the world for it.  What does it offer us? Disorder. Every evil practice.  At the surface, the Instagram Façade seems harmless. But underneath it is a boatload of filth.  

The Answer for Comparison

God doesn’t leave us hanging.  We don’t have to stay in a place of disorder.  

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3:17-19)

Wisdom that comes from God, not the world, is everything that bitter envy and selfish ambition is not.  It’s pure. It loves peace, not disorder. It is considerate. It doesn’t put on the Instagram Façade. It doesn’t try to make dirt look glamorous and attractive.  Instead it is peace which leads to a harvest of righteousness.  It has nothing to hide.  It has no need to put on a false front.  

When we listen to the voices of the world and focus on ourselves, we do not receive peace from above.  We get chaos and discontentment. But when we live in the wisdom that comes from God himself, we have peace.  Peace that comes only from gazing at Jesus. We will never be able to take our eyes off the Instagram Façade unless we have something better to look at.  And let me tell you, Jesus is so much more beautiful than anything we could ever behold with our fleshly eyes.

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It is my prayer that we will not fall prey to the Instagram Façade mindset.  May we not be women who compare ourselves to others. May we not put on the mask.  May we be transparent so that the light of Christ can shine that much brighter. The next time we are tempted to compare ourselves, let’s instead look to Jesus and thank Him for all that He has done for us.  Let us praise His beautiful name. Because He satisfies. Because He is glorious. Because He is worthy.

“I have seen you in your sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.  Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.  My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing I will lift up my hands.” (Psalm 63:2-5)

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