“Lord, deliver me from the lust to vindicate myself.” -St. Augistine
CONVICTED. That’s what I am this morning as I prayed over my woes and hurts. You see, we live in a world where day after day and week after week, we and millions of our peers can publicly express their many thoughts and opinions, support and condemnation through the wonderful world of social media. I’m not bashing facebook or asking you to deactivate your twitter, I love social media and the connection it provides during those long hours of motherhood and those lonely and isolated times of foster parenting. In an instant, I can find a “friend” who “gets it” and can council or pour into me, and I am thankful for that luxury.
But lets be honest here….right now, that’s not what social media is REALLY about, is it? Right now, we find ourselves in a world where opinion and vindication, the need to be right and ensure that others agree with our particular stance on any given topic is the “acceptable norm”. We fill our friends lists with like minded people and then we “de-friend”, or worse yet, publicly crucify or convict anyone who opposes in any way our way of thinking.
Think about the last 5 topics that have been brimstone and hellfire in the social media storm…think about where you were standing and what you had to say. Now think about the hardness and hatred you saw thrown around. I’m thinking. I’m thinking about my stance and how I tried so very hard to take a road of kindness and love. How I made public stands about lions and babies and without even knowing it, a county clerk. I wanted to make sure I didn’t hurt anyone with my words, but also that my point was loud and clear, and my “social world” knew where I stood. “This shouldn’t matter.” (the lions); “This is evil.” (the babies); “This person is not a representation of my Christianity.” (the clerk). I thought I could be “kind” (“Your kindness will reward you but your cruelty to your neighbor will destroy you.” Proverbs 11:17), but still stand firm on my message of Jesus and his love, and even in those moments- those very messages were offensive and hurtful. The very thing I worked so hard not to be, in my own actions, I was being.
SOMEONE on my friends list cared deeply about the lion. CONVICTED.
SOMEONE on my friend list was hurt by my words about abortion. CONVICTED.
SOMEONE on my friend list identified with and praises the clerk. CONVICTED.
The most fascinating thing in it all? I probably shared some of the same feelings, morals, beliefs and convictions as my friends, but because we never stopped to have an actual conversation out of a place of trust and love as brothers and sisters serving the same Lord, No middle ground was found before the condemnation and convicting of one another started.
This is where humility comes in.
So often, we find ourselves in the need to be “right” at all costs. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes we are “right”, fundamentally. When we go “wrong” is when the deep need to ensure others know we are “right” rears its evil head. (Refer to the public display being made by the clerk.)
“Pride leads to disgrace but with humility comes wisdom.” -Prov. 11:2
“…and all of you, serve each other in humility, for God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” -1 Peter 5:5
As the firestorm that is social media (aka. Social Acceptance) heats up and the beast of righteousness and vindication is released, we find ourselves being torn apart and publicly challenged via that lovely thing we call “newsfeed” and “wall”. It hurts. Its painful and its personal, and as you sit alone reading all about yourself you begin to think about how to vindicate yourself. The need to make sure that everyone knows that you are “this” or your aren’t “that”. I need to make sure my friends know where I stand and the goodness in my heart….wait…why? In my own efforts to tell my friends that I don’t live in offense, I found myself hurt and offended. In my efforts to put aside the need to defend myself or my viewpoints as I am called hurtful things, I found myself needing to defend my person. I went to bed anguished and hurting, trying to figure out how I was going to “fix” this public condemnation of myself, because that’s what I thought I “needed”. Is that not in its self the need for vindication? The only way to repair the things directed at me would be to direct words back at someone else. “It is foolish to belittle ones neighbor. A sensible person keeps quiet.”- Prov 11:12
I remembered this morning….well actually the Holy Spirit remembered and ripped through my heart this morning…a sermon I heard a few years ago about humility and ways we can practice humbling ourselves. It hit me that this is where we (at least I, personally) need to begin, on social networks and in our daily lives, in order to lay down our own pride and find worth in ourselves and our peers again.
“It was pride that changed angels into devils; It is humility that makes men as angels.” -St. Augistine
How? How can I practice being humble and what does humility look like in our world today? I remember that teacher as she shared with us:
Humble yourself by serving those that are different from you, less fortunate than you, and different minded than you. Be hands when you are able, and serve others humbly without the need for recognition or thanks.
PRACTICE LETTING OTHERS HAVE THE LAST WORD.
Let others express their thoughts and opinions without the need to justify or express your own.
LEARN TO NOT ALWAYS NEED TO DEFEND YOURSELF. The lust to vindicate ones self is deep seeded, but unnecessicary. Your value and worth are from the Lord and the Lord alone, not man.
PRACTICE THINKING MORE OF OTHERS THAN YOURSELF. Hurting people are hurtful people. Humble yourself enough to pray for others and put their needs ahead of your own. Allow yourself to disappear from your own concerns.
ASK GOD TO OCCASIONALLY REMIND YOU OF THE DEPTHS OF YOUR OWN SINFULLNESS.
When you remind yourself of your own sinfulness and sinful nature, you can humble yourself before God and man.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brothers eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” -Matt. 7:3
Practicing humility is hard. Its more effort sometimes than the easy and more acceptable road of self vindication. Swallowing words and pride sometimes tastes pretty sour going down, but reminding yourself that you are the least of these and yet you are still of immense value brings peace to ones soul.
I am a self righteous person in a world that promotes and accepts self righteousness. This transcends through the liberal world and the Church alike, whether we want to be honest enough with ourselves to admit it or not. We will always be able to find something that needs publicly convicted or vindicated while pursuing our self righteous stance and defending our actions or words. We MUST become better at practicing humility than we are at posting our viewpoints on our “wall”. I’m talking to me here.