When we spend our energy looking at other people and wanting exactly what they have, then there is a good chance we are missing out on what God is already doing in our own lives. If our modus operandi is to scroll through Facebook and look at other people’s lives, if our hearts are regularly meditating on what our friends have, on what they are doing, then we might just be investing in envy. Or we might be investing more into other people’s lives than our own. This is not necessarily the case, but we have to remember that sin is just hanging out, ready to cease the moment. As Christians, our enemy is anything but passive. The powers of darkness cannot claim our soul but they hunger to rip us out of fellowship with God. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against the powers of darkness and they want to plant envy and a whole host of sins deep within our hearts. Our hearts are after all, fertile ground. I do not have a green thumb. Ask any of my family members–even my kids–they will tell you the truth–I am a plant murderer. I get inspired and plant seeds almost every year knowing full well that they will eventually die. Usually sooner rather than later. But seeds are a dime a dozen so there is little to no consequence on my part. Not so with the heart. Seeds have a much greater impact. For example, scripture says that a tiny mustard seed of faith can move mountains! Furthermore, once something has been planted, it can be very hard to cut off that new growth. When we allow the seed of sin into our hearts, it might take a while, but it will eventually become full grown and give birth to death. Also, usually sooner rather than later.
“Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” -James 1:15
Sin is an aggressive weed. It wants to take over every inch of our heart. In fact, beginning with Adam and Eve, sin took over every inch of humanity. The nasty weed choked every living thing out of the human heart until it became dead. Before God came down to us, we were all one big overgrown weed–dead in our sins. Without Christ, you can dig as deep as you want and find only evil, always evil.
“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” -Romans 3:11-12
God could have washed his hands of us and rightly so! His good and beautiful creation spat in his face and chose to become a nasty overgrown weed. God could have wiped us off the face of the earth, pulled us up by the roots and tossed us into the burn pile. But he didn’t. God could have let us continue in our existence as good for nothing weeds. But he didn’t. That is not who God is. God is merciful. God is loving. God is gracious. God is just. God is judge. The enormity of our sin demanded God’s justice. It demanded God’s wrath. But rather than scorch the weed that deserved a fiery end, God transformed it by the powerful blood of Jesus! Our glorious Savior took on the molten heat of God’s wrath over sin and now we are being transformed into something entirely new. God is making hearts new all over the world. He is making something out of nothing and oh how good are the works of his hands! Sin can still worm it’s way into our hearts but we can no longer be overtaken. We are alive in Christ! Jesus has given us a new heart that beats to the rhythm of grace. He gave us his righteousness. Jesus, who knew no sin became sin that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus, has won the war on sin and death and the weed that choked out every good thing has been choked out by God himself. One day, every heart, both those tilled by God’s grace and those that have rejected God’s grace–all of us, in one accord will bow the knee and and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. He will receive all glory and honor. It is due him. And those of us that are His, will share in His glory. Those who chose to reject the light of the world will unnecessarily experience the wrath of God over their sins. Jesus already paid their wages, but by rejecting Christ and the work of his hands, by trusting in the work of mortal hands, they have condemned their souls to Hell. Apart from Christ we have no power to rip out the weeds. Sin is our nature. Apart from Christ the weeds are all that we have, all we know. Only God can create something out of nothing. We can only work with what we’ve got and apart from Christ all we have is an overgrown tangled mess.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” -John 3:16-19
If you have never placed your faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, if you are still trying to change your own heart and make things right with God on your own terms–stop it!! Your effort is in vain! You are wasting precious time. We can rip out weeds all day long but at our very core, we ARE a weed. No matter how well we live our life, no matter how many good works we do, they are worthless beyond this life.
“We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” -Isaiah 64:6
Once we bow the knee and put our faith and trust in Jesus and believe that it is his work that makes us right with God, not ours, we are immediately justified and forgiven. Even if we died one second later, we would be in Heaven with the God man that makes Heaven so splendid (nope, not the streets of gold. They don’t even hold a candle.). That being said, while it is true that Jesus gave us Salvation and we do not work for it, it is from that place of acceptance and justification we are then able to experience and take part in the incredible transforming work of the Holy Spirit. We get to watch and by his power, take part in the incredible work of sanctification. We are made more and more into his image and our hearts reflect his more as we grow in the Lord. He is ripping the weeds out and making our hearts new. So how important is it then, that we guard our hearts!! We have to be intentional here! Yes we are being made new and the Lord is uprooting sin from our lives, but until we die and our bodies have been glorified, sin can still take root in our lives, hurting us and those around us. The Bible is clear that the Lord is going to finish what he starts but we slow the process down when we allow weeds back in and cultivate their growth. The Bible says the heart is deceptive above all else so we have to constantly be examining our life against the truth of scripture and guarding our hearts from sin.
“My son, be attentive to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
Let them not escape from your sight;
keep them within your heart.
For they are life to those who find them,
and healing to all their flesh.
Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.” -Proverbs 4:20-27
We often (myself included) take time out of our day to consider other people’s lives but I think it’s important that we take time to meditate on our own lives and ask the Lord for discernment. I get on Facebook and hold my life up against other people’s lives but rarely do I hold my life up against scripture. Facebook can be used for good and it can be used for bad, but make no mistake, we are using it for something. Sometimes we use it to pass time, sometimes we use it to encourage others, sometimes we use it to compare, sometimes we use it to share joy, sometimes we use it to keep tabs on people, sometimes we use it to glorify God, and sometimes we use it to steal glory for ourselves. Don’t let it be an avenue for sin to take root in your heart. We do not have an infinite amount of time on this earth. How we spend our time matters and how we spend our time is an investment. We can spend it on quality things or we can waste it. My question to myself and others is, are we being careful to guard our hearts and invest our time, emotion, energy, and wellspring of life into the Lord’s kingdom, into our husband or wife, into our children, into the people at our local Church and into the community around us? These are all institutions the Lord has put into place and it is within the context of these relationships and entities that we live out the Christian life. Is Facebook and social media adding to or detracting from these relationships? My answer: Often times, it better helps me to connect and keep up with my family, church, and community but just as often, it detracts from these relationships. For example, instead of letting loneliness be the catalyst to pursue my church body and community, I often let it drive me to mindlessly scroll through my news feed, and in that mindless lonely state I open the door wide for sin to come in and get a foothold. When I see pictures of other people having interactions with their friends, I begin to envy them and allow sin to plant a seed in my heart. Half of the time I don’t even realize I’m doing this until maybe one day I look at a picture of someone and feel outright hostility and bitterness. Those two friendly sentiments are not fruit of the Spirit, definitely the fruit. I need to be a better steward of my time and a better steward of Facebook. You know, we leave an impact when we hit like on a photo or post, but the power to “like” something on Facebook can never rival the impact of a life invested in God and invested in the people he has placed into their life.