I’m getting pretty fed up with Instagram lately. I chose to make my account private so I have to approve all follow requests. I would estimate that around 80% of my requests are phony. Generally, they are fitness gurus who want me on their team changing my lifestyle — oh, and selling stuff. If it’s not them, it’s got to be some hipster blogger who certainly has no interest in my account of life in Nepal but has every intention of influencing me to boost my lifestyle to boost her bottom line.
Discontentment sells. It sells in America. It sells in my host-country of Nepal, and it sells all over the world. Our hearts are fragile, and we are easily influenced. “Get a better body in 8 weeks,” or “Transform your home with 1 can of paint” — no matter the tagline, the message is the same: your life and the person behind your social media feed is not acceptable as is. I fall for it just about every time. Discontentment fuels economies and fills bank accounts, but it does nothing for the soul.
Progress is the key word of this DIY culture. The Scripture is anti-discontentment, but it is pro-progress. Biblical progress, however, is vastly different than what the world teaches us it is. Knowing we are fully accepted as we are frees us to live the counter-cultural life to which we are called.
“…but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing” (1 Thessalonians 4:9-11).
Biblical progress is growing in grace and brotherly love. It is the complete antithesis of the message we gulp down like Gatorade alongside the rest of the world. This message seems harder to swallow. We are challenged not to pick ourselves up by our own bootstraps to craft a fabulous life but to study to be quiet and to be busy in our business of loving others well. We are to commit ourselves to live in contentment the life and calling God has given us.
The word study here tells us that this endeavor does not come naturally. It is a discipline that must be cultivated, and we are to work at it every day. Social media outlets, HGTV, or inspirational bloggers may be enemies to this growth (for you, it may be something else). We must be mindful of what we allow to influence us. Discontentment pulls our hearts away from the giver of all good gifts and bows our hearts to idols instead.
The reward of our diligent efforts to live a counter-cultural life of contentment is two-fold. First, Biblical progress provides a testimony of godliness to unbelievers, giving us more influence. Second, Biblical progress brings the peace we pursue in each one of our failed DIY efforts. We will finally see that we lack nothing. We will abound in all we truly need.
And — maybe — I’ll find I don’t have much use for Instagram anymore. I’m just not buying what they’re selling.
What seemingly harmless everyday thing might be causing you discontent at the moment? How have you struggled to forego earthly progress for spiritual progress?