“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 (NIV)
When I was a teenager, I used my camera to take pictures of my family and friends. I never asked someone to take a picture of me all alone. It was always me with my friends, or me with my grey and white cat, Pokie.
For the most part, selfies didn’t exist then. Cameras were too large and awkward to hold steady while taking a photo of yourself.
How times have changed!
The word “selfie” was named by Oxford Dictionary as its Word of the Year in 2013. Defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website,” selfies have changed the way many people take photographs.
We aren’t aiming outward; we’re aiming inward.
The lens isn’t focused on others; it’s focused on us.
Google the phrase “how to take a great selfie,” and you’ll see more than 2.5 million results. Tips range from “use natural lighting” to “turn to the side a tiny bit.” One celebrity said she takes 500 selfies before finding one she likes enough to post. Another article said the average teen takes 12 minutes per selfie, from preparing the shot to editing it.
Is there anything wrong with taking selfies? It’s fine to snap a photo of yourself and post for friends, but if you’re obsessed with presenting the perfect picture, there is a problem. Or if you post selfies on social media all day long, there’s an issue.
Our key verse from Paul’s letter to the Philippian church instructs us, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” (Philippians 2:3a).
Pride is an enemy of the soul. A stream of carefully selected and edited selfies certainly feeds pride in our lives. Instead the Apostle Paul says to value other people above ourselves. We are to be more interested in viewing someone else’s posts and less interested in promoting our own.
What if your friend always edits her image to look perfect and it drives you crazy? Let’s remember Paul’s solution to the problem of selfishness: “Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3b).
When you are on social media, be courteous and kind in the comments and photos you post. Let others notice that as Christians, we work to promote and encourage others, not to exalt ourselves.
Instead of being judgmental, harsh or critical towards others, I want to extend grace. Give people the benefit of the doubt. We tend to expect a lot from others and think up excuses for ourselves. Please don’t misunderstand. Being humble doesn’t mean wallowing in dirt and thinking I’m not worthy of anyone’s approval. As my pastor puts it, “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less.”
Maybe you don’t take very many selfies, but like me, you struggle with selfishness. Today instead of focusing on your own problems, take a moment to pray for someone else. The more we put the spotlight on others, the happier and more fulfilled we become.
Perhaps this week you can give your phone a rest from taking selfies. Go back to the earlier generation of taking pictures. Turn the lens outward to others and smile, not for a selfie, but toward your friends and family.
Lord Jesus, I’m sorry for being too focused on myself. I am selfish by nature. Help me value others and be affectionate to my friends and family. May I bear with others in love today. Teach me how to use my phone and social media for good to further Your will in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Galatians 5:26, “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (NIV)
1 John 4:11, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (ESV)
Arlene Pellicane’s book Calm, Cool, and Connected: 5 Digital Habits for a More Balanced Life will help you better manage your technology. It’s available in our bookstore.
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Do you find yourself caught in a selfie trap, regularly trying to present a positive picture of yourself to others? If so, has that pursuit brought you peace? Find rest by refraining from taking more selfies and focus on others instead.
© 2017 by Arlene Pellicane. All rights reserved.