Over the past couple of months, I have read news articles discussing the effects of social media on young people, specifically girls and how it is affecting their perception of themselves. As if growing up wasn’t difficult enough, our children are bombarded daily with images being pushed upon them to act or dress in a certain way. If they don’t, they are social outcasts. The same holds true for adults. If you don’t own the right car or dress in a particular way, you won’t be popular and people will no longer like you.
Since the 1950s, we have been subjected to a steady stream of nonsense from advertising firms. Back then, there was no social media. Newspapers, magazines, radio and television were filled with images of things we needed to have to be popular. The advertising firms fed us a steady, unrelenting diet of tripe about what we should be doing in our spare time, what we should be eating and how we should be dressing. Imagine how things would have been if social media had existed back then. I would probably guess that things would be a lot worse than they are now.
It is so very easy to complicate our lives by adding to our daily headaches by following silly trends. What is popular today soon becomes a fading fad tomorrow. It is a never ending cycle. Something new will pop up and we start the whole thing over again.
The best example I can give is the toy industry. About six months before Christmas, there will be a toy that all children have to have. It will sweep the world in its popularity. If a child doesn’t have that particular toy, they literally will be ostracized by their peers. So, children run to their parents with their wish lists in their hands and demand that particular toy be delivered on Christmas. This cycle happens every year and continues to repeat itself in almost every household around the world.
As parents, we will literally do anything to get that item for our children. We have all seen the news reports on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, where people rush to do their early Christmas shopping and look for deals. In those reports, we see people literally beating one another for the last item on the shelf. They fight over every single thing in the store and delight in the fact that they were able to get the last one.
Is this how life is supposed to be? Life is hard enough for each of us and when you add this stress to what we face daily, life becomes even more complicated.
There have been so many times in my own life when I have longed for the simpler times when we had very little, but we had so much spiritually. It seems that the more we have; the less we have spiritually. Instead of following the Lord daily, we follow trends and fads.
In chapter four of his first epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul writes, “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.”
We should all strive to live simple lives and make a point to mind our own business. If we worked on just doing those two things, life would be a lot easier.
Minding our own business doesn’t mean that we should not care for one another. Far from it. What it means is that we should adopt a policy of “live and let live”. Our responsibilities to one another are very simple. We are to help those in need and provide for them as we can.
John, in chapter three of his first epistle, writes, “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?”
If our needs are being met, then why should we look for more or for other things? As long as we have a roof over our heads, food on the table and clothing, we have been blessed. If God chooses to bless us with more, we should share that bounty with others. All that we have received comes from His hand and we should, with humbleness, accept those blessings and share them with all.
In chapter six of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
Jesus gives us a simple way of life and how we should live it. By concentrating on the most important part, worshiping God above all else and living righteously, God will provide for our needs. He already knows exactly what we need to live and provides those things daily. Instead of looking at the things of this world, we should be seeking Him and spending time with Him daily.
So, my words of advice to you are don’t complicate your life with frivolous things and pursue popularity. Concentrate on those things that will truly make a difference in your life. The things of this world will only add more headaches and make you crave more. Just like the example of the latest toy for children, there will always be something else next year. If you have a child, I ask that you go to his or her toy box and look at its contents. You will see all of the toys that were popular at one time and then quickly fell out of popularity. Thrift and consignment stores are full of those discarded toys. Seek only those things that are, as Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians, “true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable”.
By living a quiet, simple life devoted to those things that truly matter, you can rest assured that you can easily stand firm in His grace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.