“Facebook is the New Street Corner”
I laughed at the sentence because I instantly understood what it meant. I’ve been on LinkedIn long enough to actually be following some real thought leaders. And I get “gold” from them sometimes.
This was one thought that was written by one of these leaders. In it, the author wrote some musings about how in the 21st century we don’t have to ask friends to borrow a few bucks or stand on the street corner begging. Instead, we can share that need (want?) to several hundred people with a carefully crafted Facebook post and gain the money from the comfort of our home.
I was a little surprised by the author’s conclusion as to our motivations: selfishness. Without going into all the research behind it, it struck me as fascinating that this secular thought leader perceived our use of social media for asking for stuff as self-centered.
Then preparing for this blog it started to form a bigger picture for me. In Philippians 2:3-4 we read:
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:3-4, NIV
This is one of those little passages we can think of someone needing to hear this…and then we realize the Lord is talking to us.
We’re told we don’t embark on those ventures based on “selfish ambition or vain conceit”. Scripture doesn’t condemn ambition, but when it’s done simply to increase our standing, power, bottom line, or ego, then it’s sin.
That type of ambition will step on anyone in order “to get to the top”. This is not the spirit of Jesus leading us to do that. This isn’t the type of ambition Scripture can applaud.
Likewise, “vain conceit” is just piling on to what the Apostle is writing. This is pride, inflated ego, or a (nearly) narcissistic approach to whatever we are attempting to do. This is the point where it’s all about us: our needs, wants, self-worth, value, and feelings of importance.
Just a few verses prior (Philippians 1:17), Paul exposed this spirit in some preachers. Yes, they were preaching Jesus and the Gospel was being spread, BUT they were doing it for themselves.
Many of the conflicts we find ourselves in are based on the problems of verse 3. And it wasn’t just Paul writing about it. The half-brother of Jesus, James, wrote:
1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
James 4:1–3 (NIV)
The solution is simply, yet profoundly, stated in Philippians 2:3b-4: push others up.
How can you push others up?
- Don’t assume the worst in someone’s motivations.
- Celebrate someone else’s “wins” (or fake it until you make it!).
- Don’t be the first one to bring up what’s wrong in your life.
I’m not sure the author was correct or not that posting a need on Facebook is self-centered. It certainly makes us stop and think twice before posting it.
One thing is for sure: Scripture would certainly caution us to examine our motives and spend more time pushing others up before pushing ourselves out there.