We’re all guilty of going on social media and comparing our lives to the perfect, filtered pictures of our friends and family. But that comparison can lead to resentment and depression.
In this clip from the James: Faith/Works study, Pastor Matt Chandler uses an example of his own experience with comparison during his trial of brain cancer to illustrate how comparison can harden our hearts and make us blind to the fact that we all go through trials and struggles despite what out Instagram feed may look like.
Matt Chandler is the Lead Pastor at the Village Church in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas. He is also the President of Acts 29, a network of churches planting churches, and the author of many books and Bible studies including James, The Apostles Creed, A Beautiful Design, and The Explicit Gospel.
The entire video is above, and the complete transcript is below.
A sociological study that rolled out this weekend – in fact, most of the major secular media outlets picked it up – it was a pretty big study on Instagram and its effects on us. Here’s the conclusion – not by Christians – the conclusions is: Instagram leads to depression.
And here’s why. If we could just paint the picture like it actually happens.
You just finished blowing through a whole season of something on Netflix. You’ve not got out of your pajama pants that day. You crawl into bed and you grab your phone and you start scrolling through your Instagram account and here’s what you find: Everybody’s marriage is awesome and their kids are incredible and they’re just counting money and they don’t struggle and there’s no pain and there’s no sorrow.
And here you are, in your trial, ate a whole gallon of ice cream, watching a series on Netflix. And you start to resent them. You start to grow in anger against them.
“Really? Me, Lord? I’m enduring this trial? What about them?”
And in your trial your insidious, wicked heart will be exposed. And comparison is how it plays itself out.
Just so you know, I’m not dogging you, I’m dogging us.
After my diagnosis with brain cancer – it happened around Christmas – I was in a dark place. No cape on me. I was in a dark place. Everything I saw was loss. I couldn’t look at my daughters, because I would think, “Oh my gosh, I’m not going to get to walk them down the aisle. I’m not going to get to help them navigate through the travails of being a teenage girl in this depraved day.” I couldn’t look at my son, because I thought, “Oh my gosh, I’m not going to be able to encourage him to become the man that he’s–” And everywhere I looked I just saw loss.
It was that time of year when everybody sends you a picture of their family and dog on a card. And what Lauren does with those is she puts them all over our mantle and then she puts them on our Christmas trees.
I’m sitting on the couch. Lauren and the kids were gone. And I’m sitting there just feeling sorry for myself and just running through everything I was losing and that fact that the next two years of my life they’re going to poison me and radiate me and that I was just going to melt away. And everything that was strong about me and fun about me is gone forever.
That’s where I was. That’s where my heart was. Just don’t want to ever bull you. That’s where my heart was. It was dark.
And I look up and on my mantle is a picture of this family and the man in that family is a serial adulterer, a coward, and a fool. And I thought, your pastor thought, “Really God?! Me?! This is happening to me?! I’ve done nothing, but serve You. I’ve done nothing, but have my life wrung out for Your glory. I’ve done nothing, but make much of Your name and Your renown. And this clown gets health?!”
I’ll tell you what, man, the Holy Spirit did not wait long to punch me in the soul. He very quickly stepped in. Luke 15 flooded my mind and I realized, I’m like the older brother complaining outside. The Holy Spirit pressed upon my heart, “So, he can’t be a victorious story of My salvation and reconciliation? Only you can? Plus brother, I think you might be elevating your own worth here. You really think that My plan is contingent upon you being here? Brother, you’re going to go in the ground, come on home to Me, and I’m just going to keep moving. I’ve hinged nothing on you, sweet friend.”
It was a really beautiful, awful moment. And I’m grateful to God for it.
When we’re enduring trials, we become hyperaware of the prettiness of other people’s lives and we begin to resent them. And James here, via the power of the Holy Spirit, is going, “No, no, no, no. It’s all level in the end. Don’t believe the Instagram hype. Everyone endures trials. Everyone struggles. We’ll have seasons in which the sky is clear and we’ll have seasons in which they’re cloudy. I am leading you into maturity. I am showing you you need Me.”
Watch our other video with Pastor Matt: The Bible Is Not About You