If you want to know what’s truly in a person’s heart, what they believe and value most, simply scroll through their social media feed. Especially during election season or a global pandemic. This holds true for all of us, myself included. My Facebook engagement reveals where I’m placing my trust. In a political system driven by fallible humans? In myself and my ability to type out a strong and convincing argument? Or in Jesus and the eternal life He grants us?
I understand all the apparent chaos in our world triggers anxiety. And how do most of us respond to these unsettling emotions? Most often, we grasp for control, or perhaps I should say, to our illusion of it. But what if our most fervent, passionate efforts are hindering our greatest call to know God intimately and make Him known?
About ten years ago, I engaged in conversations with an atheist. Initially, our discussions felt productive. Soon, however, our interaction turned contentious as we both sought to convince the other of our vastly different positions. Not only did my most logical arguments prove ineffective; but my steadily increasing pride, evident by my complete lack of grace, distorted Christ in me.
I’m certain this grieved God’s heart. I misrepresented my Savior, the One who had entrusted me with the very words of life. In my desire to be right and oh so wise, I’d forgotten that “wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17, ESV).
God’s wisdom is:
- Pure, uncontaminated with sin, including self-righteousness and pride. This goes much deeper than any outward behavior to a purity that extends to the core of our being.
- Demonstrative of a wholeness that stems from operating completely in God’s will.
- Gentle, which in this case, means moderate and equitable.
- Someone who truly listens and seeks to understand.
- Full of mercy and good fruits, the kind that stems from our deep and constant connection with Christ. (John 15:1-5).
In my interaction with that atheist, I wasn’t yielding to Christ and His power within me, nor was I worshiping the Creator and Ruler of all. Instead, I was worshipping myself. The result? Nothing good. The man didn’t move one step closer to the Giver of life, the only one with the power to change his heart and his perspective. If anything, I fear I may have pushed the atheist further from Christ.
And while I won’t receive a do-over, each day God does grant me a “try again.” He offers that to us all. What if we considered our social media feeds something of training grounds as we learned to rely more on the Holy Spirit and less on ourselves. As we do, we’ll more consistently reveal all those beautiful qualities Scripture promises He births within us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
My spiritual maturity is most clearly revealed not in how well I quote verses or how logically I phrase biblical arguments. Rather, I reveal the depth of my love for Christ and my worship of Him in how well I love. May God’s most precious fruit first fill me so fully, there’s room for nothing else, then flow from me. In this, may others “taste and see that the Lord” truly “is good” (Psalm 34:8, ESV).
How, then, can I become more spiritually mature—before my fingers race across my keyboard?
I need to:
- Prioritize my time with Christ. I can’t love like Him apart from Him.
- Find and stay connected with an accountability partner—who watches my social media engagement. My husband fills this role for me.
- When tempted to engage in an argument, ask myself why. Most often, I find my pride has been pricked, and Scripture says God opposes the proud. I certainly don’t want that!
- Pull away to pray when I first feel my muscles tense. And here’s what’s great about this. The more we scroll past posts and comments that irritate us or tempt us to argue, the easier it becomes to do so in the future. But the converse is also true. The more we jump in and allow ourselves to get riled up, the more frequent our contentious responses will become.
- Meditate on the cross and my need for it. That always tends to refocus my priorities on the things of eternity.
Join me. This election season, may we continually invite God to examine and purify our hearts, so that we honor the One who gave His life so that we might live and then proclaim that life to others.
We may also need to set boundaries as we work to guard our peace and prioritize our time with Jesus. If you struggle with this, you might find my latest Thriving With Chronic Illness podcast episode helpful: Setting Boundaries P. 2