A few weeks ago I found myself walking the aisles of Wal-Mart while reading the beginning of The Alchemist, a book I’d picked up somewhere near the electronics department. If you’re at all familiar with mythology then you’ve probably heard the story of Narcissus. He would go to the lake everyday day just to see his reflection in the water, then one day he drowns in it and a flower blooms, which is named after him. However in The Alchemist, Paulo Coehlo writes a different version that ends with the goddess of the forest finding that the lake had been transformed from fresh water to salty tears. After she converses with the lake about the beauty and death of Narcissus, the lake replies,”I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected.” The moment I read that, it became my favorite version of the story. It’s like the never-ending cycle of vanity and conceit.
We live in a “selfie-centered” world where if you don’t take a picture of your newest outfit and post it online, it’s kind of like you never bought it. Our self-worth shouldn’t be wrapped up in the clothes we wear, the job we work, or what we drive. Clothes wear out, people get laid off, and cars depreciate the moment you drive off the lot. We should always do our best and try our hardest but that doesn’t mean getting what you want at other people’s expense. Life isn’t about trying to one-up the next person. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” That simply means that you don’t do things for the sole purpose of making yourself seem better than someone else and that feeding your pride should not be on your agenda. Proverbs 11:22 says, “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.” Being beautiful is a complete waste if the inside doesn’t match. A pig with a gold ring is still a pig. We see how God felt about the women who were conceited and self-centered in Isaiah 3:16-24. He said He’d take away all of their clothes, jewelery, perfume, and make them go bald. The problem wasn’t the clothes and accessories, it was their hearts. Remember Matthew 6:21 says that where your treasure is, your heart will be also. So when you take your next selfie, keep in mind that it doesn’t matter how many people like your pictures online if you’re not reflecting the same thing in person.