A Temptation I Can Relate To

Do you ever feel as if your Facebook friends have more exciting lives than yours; that by comparison your life is boring?

I recently read about a study, which concluded that Facebook and other social networking sites are leading many users to feel “dissatisfied with their lives.”  The study found that, “Witnessing friends’ vacations, love lives and work successes on Facebook can cause envy and trigger feelings of misery and loneliness.” Additionally, some people admitted that Facebook caused them to feel “frustrated or angry.”

Covet: To desire what belongs to another. (Webster’s Dictionary)   

As someone who rarely leaves home, I can relate to this. If it wasn’t for the Discovery Channel and the Travel Channel, I’d never even have imaginary adventures or vacations. When ALS forced me to quit work and began limiting my ability to travel, I quickly figured out just how dangerous and depressing coveting (the health and lifestyle of others) could be. Thankfully, with God’s help, I’ve moved beyond that temptation and am now genuinely happy when I see family and friends enjoying the health and wealth that God has blessed them with.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)

Thankfully, a few years after being diagnosed with ALS, I figured out that one of the problems with jealousy, or what the Bible calls covetousness, is that it keeps you from truly Rejoicing with those who rejoice” and, when you’re having a pity party, it’s also impossible to genuinely empathize with others – we cannot “weep with those who weep” because they’re stealing the spotlight that we think should be on us.

If you are one of the 33 percent of Facebook users that gets jealous when you read posts about your friends successes or see pictures of their fun vacations etc, ask yourself if you would be happy if none of your friends had any successes and never took vacations. I hope, like me, that’s the last thing you would want. In fact, to be honest, I only get frustrated with able-bodied couch potatoes; if I could speak I’d tell them to get up and go enjoy their life – like my mom used to tell me when, as a teenager, I was sitting on the couch watching Gilligan’s Island on a beautiful summer afternoon. If medical science ever makes it possible to do head transplants, watch out couch potatoes – I know of a lot of people with ALS and other disabilities that would make good use of your sedentary bodies.

The problem with sites like Facebook is that most people only post the highlights of the lives; they post pictures of their vacations, but rarely do they post pictures of themselves working. Mary’s sister is an executive with a large airline and for several years she would take our girls on exotic summer vacations; fun places like resorts in the Caribbean and Cabo San Lucas or the mountains of Colorado. Because their Aunt Kathy lives far away in another city, these trips were usually the only time the girls got to spend with her; they never saw her coming home exhausted after one of her frequent long days at work. Like our girls only seeing the good part of Aunt Kathy’s life, I think that Facebook, and the Internet in general, can give us a distorted view of reality.

You cannot be grateful for what you have when you’re focusing on what you desire.

“Thou shalt not kill,” “Thou shalt not commit adultery” and “Thou shalt not steal,” seem to get all the press these days, but “Thou shalt not covet” is still one of the Ten Commandments.

About Bill Sweeney

In 1996, Bill was diagnosed with ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) and the doctors told him he had 3-5 years to live. He is now completely paralyzed and unable to speak, but by God’s grace, he’s still alive and through his blog shares a message of hope in Christ - Unshakable Hope!

Posted on March 6, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 183 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on Christine's Collection and commented:
    So Facebook isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!

    Plus all the movies and novels giving folks the feeling they are really missing out, the impression others lead such exciting lives. By comparison reality is so dull! And with glossy magazines showing us what our homes, yards, bodies, and vacations could look like. No wonder contentment is such a rare commodity. But, as Bill tells us here, it is possible to find and hang onto.

  2. FB reflects what happens in our work place, neighborhood and life in general but, praise be to God for FB, through it, I have meet people like you with several followers shining the light of God on my path. Though I have few followers, I appreciate them all for affirming my convictions and helping me to do better. May God deliver his followers from the spirit of Covetousness and people who are covetous.

  3. Bill,
    I found a wonderful surprise in my Inbox this morning; a like from you on a recent post that led me to your blog! Fifteen minutes later I know I’ve discovered a new resource for spiritual strength and insight.
    Thank you for sharing what God is teaching you through this extended trial called ALS.
    A few of my favorite inspirational books are by Amy Carmichael. She was a missionary to India and began a work with orphans. She was injured and spent the remainder of her time (over 30 years) bedridden. She continued to serve and lead from her bed of pain. Her writings reveal the depth of her suffering and the incredible God given insights she received as she waited upon the Lord and meditated on His word.
    Your insights into Romans 12:15 reminded me of Amy’s insights shared with many. Maybe there’s a book in your future.

  4. FB can be a negative out let if one allows it to be.
    I use FB for different things. One is posting things which I deem valuable or for people who I have accepted as friends, also one for those who I call my prayer warriors. Those to me are very important. The prayer warriors. For some times I want prayer for things I do not wish to share with those who know me. Private things I may be struggling with.
    People put too much emphasis on negativity. Whether it is on FB or in real life. I try to steer clear of those things. The enemy is really good at throwing that in your face.
    I had a guy in the building where I live, just the other day talking about another tenant in a negative way. Every time I tried to steer the topic to a more positive one he went right back to the negative track he was on. Then finally I said I had to go.
    Some times we just have to be polite & excuse our selves and pray for them in the mean while.
    If we’re living our life to the best we know how, the way God wants us to live it, will reflect all things towards God eventually.
    Bill I am so inspired from reading your blog. You are truly blessed to have a high quality woman beside you and a family who loves you.
    Keep up the inspired work your doing. God Bless!

    • Thank you so much for your comments. I agree with you that we shouldn’t focus on the negative; the research I cited found that about a third of FB users have a problem with envy (over their friends posts). That means that two thirds of FB users, like you, don’t have a problem with this.

  5. I read this at work and then again now on my day off which is a much better place to read anything because I am present and can reply. This was great. Facebook has interrupted my life in more ways than one. I’ve written a little about it on my blog but haven’t come right out and really shared but it is also a very dangerous place for those in the middle of boring lives when old friends come a calling… I never thought I would ever succumb to some of the mistakes I’ve made because of facebook. Not actually envying as much as opening the door for disaster! But God is good and INTEVENED big time! LOVE the book your friend wrote! Love your review of it! She is blesseed to have you as a friend!

    • Thank you, Diane. As you probably figured out as one of my FB friends, I rarely go on there. Not because I’m afraid I will succumb to envy or something, but because I just don’t have time and I really don’t find it interesting (except for your page, of course:-) I haven’t yet had any FB disasters like you refer to, but I’ve witnessed many – posts that made me cringe.
      I am blessed to have Dabney as a friend, but equally blessed to have you as a friend!

  6. As true as this is, it’s also true that covetousness is really a matter of the heart. We can covet the smallest of things if our contentment comes from anything other than Jesus Himself. Sometimes it’s not something materialistic, but a relationship or something completely ridiculous. I once envied another young woman’s “gentle and quiet spirit”! When I’m tempted to go down that path, I try to choose a heart of gratitude and count my blessings to gain the right perspective!

    Thanks for sharing! Every one of these internet resources has the potential for bad or for good! Ultimately, what gives us even greater access to TRUTH can be used for His glory! :0)

  7. Sadly it is not always positive highlights on our sites. This week my Facebook wall is about the tragic death of my best friend’s husband. I’ve posted about many negative events and haven’t had a holiday for 8 years, but rejoice when I see wonderful things happen to anyone, friend, foe, or someone I don’t know. We should strive to have an abundance mentality (be happy for other’s blessings), not a scarcity mentality (a covetous one).

    • Thank you for your comments. I do think FB can be a good source for news among friends and it seems, like me, that’s what you’re using it for. Regardless, you need a vacation! 🙂

  8. Reblogged this on Thoughts along the way and commented:
    Several truths in this message and one I am thankful to come accross.

    • Thank you so much for the re-blog!

    • I run my church’s Facebook page. It is a great way to share “sermon bites” throughout the week after a Sunday sermon, and it is a great way to communicate upcoming events. Our church has close to 1,000 “Likes” on Facebook, and we have a great tool for our online audience to be fed the Word of God and encouraged throughout their week. Some people interact better with our church population online than they would in person because they might be shy or just more technology oriented. It’s a great way to especially reach the younger generation that spends a lot of time online these days. A tool can be both good and bad, depending upon its use. I am one who strongly advocates using our online tools like Facebook, Twitter and the like as another way to reach people with the love and hope and saving grace of Jesus Christ. 🙂

  9. Thank you for this..in so many ways, it has really inspired me.

  10. ThanksGod for you..may you and your family continue to be blessed.

    Minister Fowler

  11. What a wonderful blog and perspective you have. Thanks for the like on Soulsify. I am so glad to discover your blog.
    God Bless.

  12. Brother I hope you enjoy this interview..I will have his book soon..And will share more.

    Minister Roderick Fowler

  13. I had to smile and chuckle a bit over this… yes! I have looked at pics on FB of my relatives and friends on vacation at the beach/or in Europe and even been a bit angry! Why don’t I get to go there??? (says my ungrateful self). A good reminder of that Ten Commandment ‘thing’. I know if I concentrate on my own blessings, I won’t have time to covet!! Ha! Oh, have to share this: Once when getting out of my car in a store parking lot, I noticed a Hummer parked nearby, but this thought immediately came to my mind: “I don’t need a Hummer, cause I’ve got a Singer!” (sewing machine). Just laughing about that made me thankful.

  14. Just wanted to stop in and say how much I love this post. It’s so true and so hard for our children who will grow up in this kind of pressure. If we could all just have confidence in Him and be able to hold our head high and love like He loves, there’s no telling what our society could look like!! Thanks for sharing great insight!

  15. Reblogged this on Jubilee Journey and commented:
    This sounds like something I would have wrote. I think my friends (aka followers) will enjoy.

  16. What you said about covetousness is so true, and it is only God who can root it out of our system, as with all other aspects of our carnal nature.

  17. Blessings to you! Thank you so much for stopping by. Your tenacity for refusing to be shaken in your hope is a blessing. I know it pleases the Lord and I am believing with you for your 100% healing. He is a good GOOD God. 🙂 I look forward to the testimony.

  18. Thanks for sharing and followship. God bless.

  19. Great post. So glad I read it. Thank you checking out my blog!

  20. Facebook….I have a definite love/hate relationship with it. It is like reading an ever, on-going Christmas card letter and it leaves you in the wake feeling really lacking.

    I have a knee jerk reaction to it because I have seen it create in me much that is undesirable, and I know many like-minded souls who have struggled the same.

    I still am on it, though not too much. I limit my feed to those I know who post humbly and with an eye on encouragement. The rest is fluff and incredibly destructive…….

    I posted something a bit ago on facebook found here. I think there is much, much more to say though! http://kingsgrass.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/facebook-and-cigarettes-2/

  21. Brother thanks for stopping by My Blog from time to time..I always get your follows and enjoy them…May your life continue to be used for Gods glory.

  22. A wonderful and wise post. Thanks for sharing.

    Thank you for visiting my blog today. I appreciate the time you took to stop by. May your day be filled with joy and peace.

  23. Life is easier when we keep things basic because less is truly more. Thank you so much for liking my post and checking out my blog.

  24. Why am I just now finding your wonderful blog?? Wow, I love the way you write!

  25. I was literally just standing in my bedroom doing laundry five minutes ago longing for a husband who would take me out once in a while, longing for a life in which I wasn’t doing laundry on a Friday night. A life in which I wasn’t always serving others. Then I remembered that this life is short and one day after all this serving is over, I will be wrapped in Jesus’ arms and He will say, “Well done.” I always need to remember when I’m feeling like life is unfair and I want to throw a baby fit, would Jesus say “Well done.” to that? I don’t think so. I pray, Lord, please help me put a smile on my face and love in my heart for everyone around me and give me the strength to go on. Amen

    • Good comments, Sam. I think it’s unrealistic to tell people “don’t compare yourself to others,” we all do it. But I’ve found that we can be intentional about who we compare ourselves to. For instance, when you’re tempted to complain about doing laundry, think about those poor women in third-world countries scrubbing clothes over rocks at the river. Of course, this doesn’t work very well if you are one of those women:-)

      • I agree! Before being saved, if someone said to me, “things could be worse!”, I would angrily reply, “But they could be better!”. Now, I do think how things could be worse… if I’m sick of cooking, I think about how millions don’t have food to cook… if I am tired of hand washing dishes, I think of how millions don’t have clean water to wash or don’t have the physical ability to even stand! Etc., etc.

  26. This is a wonderful testimony! Totally relate, I am humbled! Thank the Lord for His mercy and His grace! Bless you!

    P.S. Prayers going up along with the others for your healing and Gods glory and will for your future here on earth in Jesus Name, knowing you will meet Him face to face one-day, now that is glory.

    But I really sincerely hope and pray for God to show you even more of His goodness in the land of the living here, now. I agree with all prayers prayed to spare you in Christ Jesus Name. Father God may Your precious divine will be done.

    I bless your spirit and your wife’s in Jesus Name, may our awesome God, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, convey His perfect love to you this very day and deposit even more wealth into you guys! I pray He would bless you in every sense of the word, and I thank the Lord now for your courage and words of worship unto Him.

    Peace be to you, your precious wife, peace be to your house and peace be to all that is yours. 1 Sam 25:6

  27. I learned years ago to be happy for people and not covet what they had that I didn’t have. God called me to go back to work when my daughter was a baby and I knew no one else called to do that. If I envied everyone else, I would have been so miserable. The best way I can explain is that people in my life got everything they wanted and were miserable. I got none of what I wanted and I was happy. My husband raised our daughter, not me (he quit to stay home with her; due to our education levels I made significantly more income than he did). She was healthy, we could afford a nice but modest lifestyle, and we did okay. Here’s where I wrote about it:


    Thanks for subscribing to my blog! I post several times a week, usually around the weekends. During the week, my time tends to be too short.


  28. Praying extra for u this week-Grace.

  29. That was really great! I don’t use facebook but can definitely apply this to my life.

  30. This FB thing is a huge social experiment and along with experiments come some interesting findings, right? You make a good point about getting out there and living life fully, if you can. In a very small way, I can relate to you. I don’t have ALS, but my ability to travel freely has been altered quite a bit since I found out I have celiac disease. Eating away from home becomes quite the challenge, but I’m getting better at the planning that it takes to do it. I am impressed with your attitude about life in spite of your diagnosis. My best to you today and always. …Sandra

  31. Beautiful post and beautiful, wise, comments. Hope this finds you enjoying this day, Bill. Here, it is warm and there is a fragrance of cherry blossoms, or some kind of blossom, in the air. It is “heavenly”! Sue

  32. The beautiful thing about heaven is that we will be given rewards in different measures. Yet, we will not envy one another’s rewards. We will not covet. We will rejoice with one another because those rewards are brought back to the One who gave them to us.

  33. Our culture encourages covetousness. We joke about keeping up w/ the Joneses, all the while striving to do just that. We buy larger homes, flashier cars as if those things were the measure of real achievement. Our very self-image is skewed. Women are told to value a certain silhouette, and treat all other shapes as defective. That can lead beyond envy to crippling self-loathing.

    The challenge for Christians is to see themselves as God sees them. ” ‘For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’ ” (1 Sam. 16: 7).

    • I agree with you completely, Anna. I think every commercial on TV and every other form of advertising is promoting coveting along with their product. It seems that many on social media sites are selling an unrealistic image too; an image that not even the best and most beautiful can measure up to!

  34. Thanks for visiting my site. To be content really promotes a continual joy!

  35. Very interesting post! Some of my Facebook friends share their vacations and really good news like a new job, but often they also share their concerns and their thanks for good outcomes after surgery or a grandchild’s illness or a health scare.

    When our daughter’s high school class (from 15 years ago) shared a classmate’s young daughter’s multiple surgeries after she was attacked by a dog, I changed my feelings about Facebook. Within hours of the posting, 109 of the classmates were rallying to raise money to help their friend’s little girl. They offered good thoughts, prayers, sent cards and gifts with the funds, and the word never would have reached so many in 26 states if it hadn’t been for Facebook.

    • That is a great example of FB being used for good, Marylin. And, according to the study, two-thirds of FB users do use FB for good and don’t become envious of their FB friends etc.

  36. This is the third time in the past week that I’ve been given or read this verse. I have been weeping with some dear friends who are in devastating situations right now. The other verse? “Those who sow in tears will reap in joy.” (Not quoted exactly, but very close 🙂 ) Thanks for sharing. You are so right about comparisons and coveting.

  37. From my take, Facebook is what people make it. Yes, some boast and tempt to invoke envy in others. Humanity does this across all forms of media and interaction. And has done so throughout history. FB in my view is not the culprit, it is a new medium for an old behaviour. Perhaps a more effective or efficient media for invoking envy. Maybe its convenience helps us remain emotional teenagers.

    I’ve fallen into the trap of both being envious and unknowingly trying to make others envious by what I post on FB. I am just being honest here. I will say, however, that upon becoming aware, I have been far more cautious. I value the healthy social and stay-in-touch aspects of FB.

    We are human and make mistakes…. and our temptations are common to all.


    • That is really good, Chaz! I thought about, but didn’t write about the motives of those posting pictures etc. I do believe some people use FB to “showoff” and try to evoke jealousy etc. But I didn’t write about it because even then it’s up to us whether or not we’re going to “take the bait” and become jealous of them. I’m glad you figured out how to use social media for good!

      • Hey Un-Shake… yah, the article you linked mentioned motive and impact. One of the biggest expressions of show-off/envy is holiday pics. Have to say… although not with malicious intent… I have done that. This past year, less so. But we had our teenagers with us so… of course… dozens of pics to show off to their friends.

        Interesting how a number of books of he new testament is made up of letters of correction to the various early churches…. for what? Attitudes, behaviours, interractions. Undoubtedly including one-upmanship, showing off, envy.

        Even Jesus spoke plainly about how the religious leaders of the day put on pretences and show-off-ishness in their holiness, prayer, giving, fasting, and adherence to the law.

        So again…. the way I see it, humanity is doing nothing original with engaging envy via facebook. We just reach more people, more vividly, and more quickly.

        A Chaz Paraphrase of Jer 17:9….. “The heart is wickedly deceitful and none of us can know our own heart on our own. It is only with God’s help that we can see what is really going on”.

        • That’s good, Chaz. You’re right, FB has not changed the good or bad aspects of human behavior, it, and the Internet in general, has just given us a bigger platform to showcase human behavior.

  38. Wonderful, appropriate post. At seventy-five, I don’t have the energy to hate enough to kill, haven’t had any offers for adultery in several decades, there’s so little room in our downsized house, that we have to get rid of something each time we buy or are given anything, but the green-eyed monster raises its ugly head over others’ accomplishments.
    The trauma of my old age has been the failure to achieve my dreams and having to come to grips with the reality that I was delusional about my potential. Makes a fertile soil for jealousy.

    Thanks for the post. Right on target for me.

    • Thank you for your input, Eileen. Yes, I think this is fertile ground for the elderly and disabled; as I said, I struggled with it the first few years after being diagnosed with ALS and to some extent still do. But recognizing the potential (to be envious of others) is half the battle. I suppose it’s like any sin or character flaw; we have to admit it’s a problem before we can conquer it.
      BTW; I don’t believe you “haven’t had any offers for adultery in several decades” 🙂

  39. I LOVE the name of your blog! It is so strong and so perfect.

  40. Reblogged this on Gods group.

  41. I really enjoyed your post on this topic. As one who suffers from Lupus, and am generally in my home a good bit of the time, Facebook has become a way for me to keep in touch with my grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. … some of which live no where near me. I recognized the pitfalls of FB pretty early on so I, like many others commenting, limit my time and amount of people on my page. I find joy in seeing pics of my ‘friends’ enjoying themselves. Makes me smile and I feel no loss of joy in not being able to do many of the things they can. For the most part, I think most of the people I visit with on FB are pretty non-selfish individuals who genuinely care about the people they’re in contact with. Again … great post!

    • Thank you, Rose. It sounds like you and your FB friends are among the two thirds of FB users that don’t become envious, frustrated or angry from reading your friends posts and viewing their pictures. God bless.

  42. This is an excellent post Bill, you put it just how it is. I signed up to Facebook last May after years of putting it off. I keep it minimal mainly to keep in touch with my close friend and her family in California and for my family so I ‘only’ have 31 friends! My daughter is 20 and was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome 2 years ago and it is painful for me to see my friend’s daughters of the same age ‘out there’ doing all the things a ‘normal’ 20 year old is doing. But what is normal? As you so rightly say, FB does give us a distorted version of what kind of life others are leading. And it is so easy to get caught up in envy and despair as we are then forced to look at what we percieve to be our inadequate lives. What a dangerous and destructive lie this is!
    I think that FB can be really good if used carefully but we do need to be so careful that it doesn’t sow seeds that I believe the enemy of our souls will run with to make us utterly miserable. Ahh, the ways of the modern world!
    Bill, you are an inspiration and I love your blog. As I said in one of my recent posts, ‘keep on keeping on’!

    • Thank you so much for your encouraging comments, Sherri. I am sorry to hear about your daughter. As I said in another comment, I think the temptation (to envy others) is greater for people with life-limitations and for their caregivers. But, as you rightly said, it all begins with a distorted view of what “normal” is.

  43. My preacher just did a sermon on this topic. It’s amazing how noticeable this sin becomes once it’s been identified in one’s life. That’s for this post AND for the follow!!

  44. Bill, I love how you fearlessly cut to the deep issues of life. I’ve heard Facebook called Fakebook for the very reasons you described in this post.

    I’ve never made the connection between the scripture “rejoice with those who rejoice” and being jealous of others. Wow. That’s an eye opener, for sure.

    When I was clinically depressed I struggled with emotional isolation, and it seemed like everyone had it all together. I felt like everyone else had a secret code to happiness that somehow I missed.

    When I entered recovery and started telling the truth about how I felt (instead of faking a smile), I was astonished how many people admitted they felt the same way or had struggled with depression in their past. I was humbled to realize that I was part of perpetuating a fake life, which I couldn’t stand in others. Ouch. The light went on with me, and I’ve been committed to keeping it real ever since.

    I love your genuine approach to life, Bill. Thanks for sharing your insights and wisdom with us.

    Blessings to you.

    • Thank you for your input and encouragement, Lori. I have never heard “Fakebook.” I like that. You know, the church can be fake too. It should be the place people can be the most real, but we’re afraid of being labeled as “sinners” or “lacking in faith” etc. Pretty sad. I suppose this is why Jesus spoke out against hypocrisy and hung out with “real people.” We need to be real before we can help others – trials make us real!

  45. Excellent word Bro. Bill. I needed this reminder today.

  46. This is a good site you have made (God has made?), brother! I’m looking forward to reading “more of you” when I’m not writing. Reading is an important partner of writing, don’t you think? Thanks for visiting my site. Peace be with you as you heal.

    • Thank you. I agree with you about reading and writing going hand-in-hand; obviously not all readers are writers, but I don’t know of any writers who are not readers.

  47. Nice word. Reminds me of typical ‘Christmas letters’- the typed ones that are copied and given out to everyone on the list. All we hear about are the fabulous trips and awards but rarely anything about the hardships. While great to take trips and brag on your kids, leaving out the struggling part leaves the rest of us out there wondering why we are the only ones with problems! Thanks.

  48. Beautifully put, Bill. Praise God for this timely reminder.

  49. I can relate. Parents with children with disabilities have plenty of opportunity to envy those on facebook at every stage of development. When my daughter was younger, she wasn’t in girl scouts or invited to birthday parties because of her disability. Too much therapy for other activities. No boyfriends. No sleepovers. Now my siblings and same age friends are plastering the pictures of their grandbabies all over Facebook.

    But as you indicate, it’s important to focus on the good things that come in part because of the disability. She got to ride horses in therapeutic riding due in part to her poor balance which kept her from learning how to ride a bike. Most of her peers have never ridden a horse. She learned to swim and tie her shoes. She learned to read. She went to college and graduated. She never has gotten involved in drugs or alcohol. We have a good relationship. All things to be thankful for.

    • It sounds like you have a wonderful daughter, Cindy! Your post made me think of my sister; she has an 18 year old Autistic son and, like you and like my wife, she has been making sacrifices since he was diagnosed. Where would we be without people who selflessly put their hopes and dreams aside to care for others?

  50. Thanks for sharing. May I post this and share your link on my
    Facebook wall?

  51. I am the FB oddball. I have a wry sense of humor, and use my family catastrophe’s to make my friends laugh. When I had breast cancer, I called the tumor B.O.O.B. (Boob on oncology binge). I must have more realistic friends, they post good and bad. Sounds like it isn’t the norm. But I don’t allow many on my friend list. Perhaps that is the difference. Or I have poor, calamnity-ridden friends…”LOL”. And you are right, it feels better to rejoice than to be jealous.

    • It sounds like you’re using FB well, Lorene – you’re cheering people up. As I said in another comment, I didn’t intend this as an anti-FB post; it was only about the temptation to covet. I like your acronym:-) It sounds like (through your trial) you discovered there’s a fine line between laughing and crying and you chose to laugh.

  52. That’s funny – I’ve never looked at it that way. I suppose it’s like a perpetual Christmas letter! Thanks for your good words on this. I didn’t start wrestling with envy until I started blogging. I have to keep bringing my thoughts captive to Christ so I remember to glorify God and not myself!

    • That’s interesting, Barb; it never occurred to me that blogging could tempt someone to be jealous. I have found just the opposite; most of the blogs I read are about life’s trials and tribulations and how to conquer them etc.

  53. Thank you Anne (and Heidi). That’s such great news about Heidi! Thank you for sharing that.

  54. Thank you Bill for a very thought provoking message, I asked myself was there anyone I now envied but to be honest there is no one or do I wish for anything more then I have materially, is it perhaps because I don’t follow Facebook etc No, even if I did I’m content with what I have but if you asked me do I ever cry or feel hurt I would have no hesitation in saying yes, I do not pretend to be Happy Clappy and if I feel sadness deeply I cry freely but I also enjoy good humour and often thank God for the gift of laughter as well as the gift of tears both in sadness and Joy. Once I could not cry I was like an Iceberg, my tears had dried up with the hurt and disillusionment I had experienced but God melted me with His Love. I’m a very honest person and do not agree with error and so stand up for God’s Truth, no doubt it is why I do not win popularity contests but then I don’t try, I have seen how shallow they are and the fickleness of those who play that game but I do sincerely seek to commend others when they do well and cry with them as I offer God’s comfort and yes rejoice with them too, I have seen much suffering so it’s wonderful to see others experiencing joy, especially when it is also inner Joy.

    I’m very excited Bill, one of my friends who is visiting me from Sydney this week and who I haven’t seen for 12 years asked Jesus to be her friend and Saviour during the last few days, Heidi has known great pain in her life because of shocking hurt inflicted on her by someone she Trusted and so has suffered for many years because of it. Heidi knew of God but like many others didn’t know His heart of Love and so feared Him. We have been sharing many things in the last few days, our Hopes, fears and yes tears too. This is Heidi’s first holiday in 20 years and she has never been to Queensland so Ron has been showing her some of it’s highlights, we had a very pleasant picnic by the beach yesterday and Ron and her walked in the Rain forest up on the Mountains, today we are going shopping. Heidi doesn’t have a Computer so I have been showing her the ins and out of mine and even helped her create a Power point for her mentally disabled Sister who she cares for. I have also shared with her some of the messages of the Blogs I follow, we have laughed and cried and have been angry and sad as we read together their stories, comments, replies and enjoyed the Photography of those who have this gift, yes sadly she has seen the rudeness of some too. I have shared about you Bill with her and the courage you have as your Hope in the Lord and also others who has touched my heart and uplifted and encouraged me, thank you once again for doing so and for letting me share from my heart freely.

    Christian Love from both of us and Heidi – Anne

  55. Facebook helps me feel connected to family and friends I can’t visit with often so I truly enjoying hearing about their adventures. And it’s good to hear about the tough times, also, so we can pray for each other. But I have to admit it’s the jokes, funny pictures and videos that often make my day! I love to laugh.

    • That’s great, Patty. I hope you and others didn’t take this as an anti-Facebook post; I believe Facebook is fine and even beneficial for those who use it as you do. I hope you are well – relatively speaking, of course.

      • Oh, I didn’t take it that way at all! Just sharing is all. I do have some friends who refuse to get on FB and I can understand it’s not for everyone. The bigger issue you addressed in the post is an important one. It’s all part of loving one another. I’m doing pretty well. Hope you are too!

  56. Very well written; people are still looking at the lawn of another. How green theirs is and well manacured. They don’t think about how much work they put in getting up early; often working on having that beautiful lawn. Or how much money they pay a lawn care company for that professional look. Remember, how many of those FB friends are really folk that you know intimately or at all? Also, just because it’s on FB does not make it true. And lastly; be thankful for what you have and rejoice with those who experience happiness.

  57. Hello, Bill. I really enjoyed this post and reading all the faith-filled comments from others who struggle with an illness. This amazes me.

    Well, I have good news! My editor from Tyndale just emailed and said that they were able to insert your quote in the front of my book below another quote I had posted from Pastor Jon Courson. As soon as I get the digital version they email out to the media, I’ll send a complimentary copy to you.

    God is using you in a mighty way. May He continue to bless you.

    In His hands,
    Dabney Hedegard

    • That’s great, Dabney! Maybe I can write my first book review after reading it and post it on my blog – it is a book about hope.

      • Yes. It’s a book about God stepping in at the last minute multiple times.

        No pressure about a review. You can read it, and if you like it then you decide what to do from there. I’d like to just bless you with a copy with no strings attached. I was so moved by your post and your quote that I knew I needed to include your words for others to read.

        Keep doing what you’re doing. God’s using you in a mighty way.


  58. Thank you for highlighting the issue of envy–even in the church. And I couldn’t agree more with Katherine above: “Our country would be a different place if everybody learned gratefulness.” May it begin with us!

  59. I was actually talking about this with a random group of friends yesterday. It’s hard sometimes to remember that their life is “real” too!

  60. I do so get what you’re talking about!

  61. Thank you Bill for bringing to light the thoughts of many who feel or are unable (through illness) that they are not actively involved in ‘life’ as modern society dictates. I agree that many post beautiful photos (family etc) and sometimes important information on their facebook assuming that everyone has facebook.
    Letter writing, phone calls and home visits (caring communication) have largely and sadly disappeared and been replaced by electronic ‘clicks’ and left many feeling inadequate because they are not having ‘fun’ like the rest seem to be doing.
    Without the Lord’s peace and comfort, wisdom and understanding in our lives, how easy it is to ‘fall’ for the catalogue of ‘expected’ daily living. I know this is not true for everyone, just sometimes the ‘perfectness’ of someones page can make one feel that we are missing out. Yet, there is a positive … if we don’t look at it through covetous eyes, like you said, we can ‘ “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15) and be thankful for the blessings we do have.

  62. Frankly I think people have a tendency to “doctor up” their life for the sake of their status updates. Keeping up appearances and all that.

  63. Wow, a wonderful post. And I couldn’t agree more. My brother and I have talked about this. He has virtually quit using facebook because he thinks it’s silly. People only post the good, not the bad, and we as “friends” waste our time coveting the lives of others rather than going out and living our own–the good *and* the bad. What an important reminder from someone who would know better than just about anyone what this would be like. I myself try to spend as little time on facebook as possible–only using it to keep up with friends who live far, far away. But sometimes even that is too much.

    I love your warning to couch potatoes re: medical science. How true! How much people take for granted! How much more I wish medical science could do for you!

    Thank you for this important and well-written article, my friend. You are inspirational.

    • Thank you, Jessica. I agree with you, Facebook can be good for keeping up with family and friends that live far away. I have 9 siblings and 8 of them live 1200+ miles away so I can relate to using Facebook for the purpose you stated. But only for that reason – for the most part I agree with your brother.

  64. This is a post that needs to be read far and wide. I can relate to feelings of jealousy when going on Facebook. For me, it was seeing all the status updates and pictures of sonograms, baby bumps, newborns, kids birthdays etc… It is not easy to be a childless woman at my age and watching all my friends from high school and college celebrate these milestones became increasingly difficult for me. Eventually for that reason and others I left Facebook all together about six months ago. I have found that I’m significantly happier now, but I also realize that I haven’t truly dealt with the root of the issue which is plain and simply covetousness. Your post has convicted me to get alone with God and ask Him to cleanse me anew. Thank you for that.

    • Thank you for sharing that, Rebekah. Obviously our situations are completely different, but I faced the exact same thing you described when ALS changed my life; as I said, it became difficult to “rejoice with those who were rejoicing” because I had so little to rejoice about. On top of all the emotional pain and spiritual confusion, I felt guilty because I genuinely wanted to feel happy for my family and friends that were taking fun vacations and doing other things we desperately wanted to do. Thankfully God revealed to me that it wasn’t about them; as I mentioned, I wouldn’t have been happier if my family and friends never had any successes and never took vacations. Did deleting your Facebook really make you happier and increase your hope, joy and peace, in the Christian sense, or did it just make it easier to deny your struggle? That’s a tough question, but it’s necessary to answer in order to move forward. God bless you, Rebekah.

      • ” Did deleting your Facebook really make you happier and increase your hope, joy and peace, in the Christian sense, or did it just make it easier to deny your struggle?” Wow, that’s a loaded question. And although I’d rather not admit it, I’m afraid that it did just allow me to deny my struggle. I am happy for my friends, but I don’t rejoice with them as much as I should because instead of focusing on my own blessings I get caught in the trap of focusing on where I lack. It’s a trick of the enemy! But then I think about what you said regarding couch potatoes. We take so much for granted. I have blessings that others would give their right arm for! God is truly good to all of us and we need to remember that He showers us with blessings in different ways. And in the end, it isn’t supposed to be about us anyway. It’s all about HIM!

        • Thank you for your honesty, Rebekah! As I mentioned, the line between faith and denial is very narrow – denial is faith’s imposter and we usually only recognize him after an extended trial. In a long and severe trial, “counting your blessings” does become more of a challenge, but it’s also more necessary at these times. I think you’ve already figured this out.

  65. You offer a wonderful perspective. Thanks so much for posting. You’re such an inspiration to me. May you always know God’s blessings, grace, and peace.

  66. Thank you for this great reminder. A good while ago I gave up facebook … but coveting and jealousy are not as easy turned off as that 🙁 How gracious of our God to help us grow in that area, if we ask Him… Thanks again, Bill!

  67. Good One!   Bill, did I ever tell you, you are my Hero!

  68. You said, “You cannot be grateful for what you have when you’re focusing on what you desire.”
    We all have so much to be grateful for. Our politicians spend all their time trying to make us feel deprived and shortchanged. Thank you for pointing out this important truth. Our country would be a different place if everybody learned gratefulness.

  69. What a neat “flag counter” you have here. I wish I had one just like it. 🙂

    Years back I read an interesting book, The Hidden Persuaders, by Vance Packard. He detailed the transition that took place in advertising circles in the 50s and the steps modern advertisers, with the help of motivation research, have taken to make us a continent of malcontents. I’d see those Facebook stats as a fruit of this process.

    One of the first things advertisers had to do to encourage sales was to destroy contentment. They chose several subtle angles; remember the “You deserve a break today” and “Live a little” slogans? Another thing they had to do was remold the male thinking process and make fashion an issue for them, because men of that era were far too content with “same old.”

    I was rather frightened by the direction advertising was taking society in and the danger it could pose to Christian faith, so I wrote a long article about it after I read that book. I should dust it off and post it on my blog, see what you think of it.

  70. oh, sorry, send the pics to theashcraftsgt@yahoo.com
    also, if you can give a brief outline of your life, year of birth, year of marriage, how many kids, how do you support yourself now?

  71. no one better than you to write this! good job!
    hey, I wanted to feature you in my blog. can you send me 5 pics (at least one before, one with your wife, one blogging)? people need to know about your testimony! yours, mike

  72. Thanks for giving perspective. We need it!

  73. Wow, that’s so true! Thanks for the great reminder! May the Lord continue to supply you with sweet, inward experiences of Him!

  74. I couldn’t agree more. This is why I don’t have a face book account. (Not because I’m a coveting person) but because it presents a very false sense of the world, and let’s face it, it’s also a time killer. Good for some, not for others.

    • You are right about Facebook being a potential time waster, Lisa and it presenting a false picture of reality, but I suppose it could be beneficial for those who realize all the negatives and manage it properly. The problem in not having a Facebook is that so many family and friends share event pictures and news on Facebook these days. But, like you, my wife refuses to get a Facebook page.

  75. I SO agree! Most people are not going to post having a hard time, be transparent, be ‘real’, having a bad hair day..etc. Well said!

  76. Bill, this is SUCH a good post!! I understand exactly what you are saying and you have the authority to say it! I am a Pastor’s wife, and a paraplegic, and one of my greatest frustrations is spiritual cry babies! I have a very hard time listening to how hard it was to get ready for church, or how annoying it was to get the kids ready, or how their big toe hurt so they didn’t come. But….if I dwell on that then it robs my joy also. Thank you for the great lesson!

    • Thank you for your comments, Alicia. I agree with you that, naturally speaking, some trials aren’t worth complaining about – but it’s human nature; we complain no matter how good things are. The only reason I complain less than most people is because I cannot speak:-)

  77. It’s true, and things are not always what they appear to be, unless a ‘spectator’ is very observant. Someone with a lot of nice things or who goes on vacations may have a lot of debt which comes with stress. And sometimes a person who is on holiday needs a retreat with time and space to seek the Lord during a difficult time. As the saying goes, “The grass is always greener on the other side.”

  78. Beautiful! I will be clicking the link to “share” this with my readers tomorrow!

  79. I was addicted to Facebook for awhile. Praise God, I’m over it. I still “tune in” briefly and post Christian articles. The operative word is “brief.” Facebook is a time sink.

  80. Very insightful post and very true. It is very easy to slip into these patterns if we are not careful, especially for those of us who live with ongoing health issues. Thanks for taking the time to write about such an important issue.

  81. Steven Ponchot

    “Like diamonds and gold, praise is made most valuable from scarcity.” I think I got this quote correctly, but I cannot be limited when it comes to praise. I may not have ALS, but I am limited to my bed with constant pain, but I have learned the power of praising, starting with God, and extending it to my wife, and then others. There is nothing quite like it. Praise demands knowledge of the subject of praise, enhancing relationships at every level. True, discipline is required for a time, but once the decision has been made, “Rejoice, again I say rejoice,” it develops a thirst while at the same time pouring forth showers! I love your attitude and spirit. Know, too, that I am praying for you. Steve

    “Let us enter His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise!” (Psalm 100)

    • Thank you, Steve. I am sorry for your health challenges. ALS is obviously a big challenge, but, unlike some people with ALS, I’ve never experienced much pain. Praise is a powerful thing; I think it is for our benefit – when you’re thanking and praising God, your trials become almost insignificant.

  82. Very wisely put Bill . . . thanks!

  83. Thank you for reblogging my post, Sarah!

  84. It was my pleasure!

  1. Pingback: A Temptation I Can Relate To | Z-Dreams

  2. Pingback: A Temptation I Can Relate To | Why Stay The Same When We Can Grow!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: