I was listening to the TED Talk the other day, and the topic was on attention and some of the consequences that come with attention-seeking behavior. Now, as someone who studied psychology in school, I had heard things like this before, but what I didn’t expect was the point they made about social media and the success of big media companies like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. They said that these social media companies were successful because they sold us on the need for attention. We made their success happen, because we believed that we need the attention they told us we needed. That blew my mind!
The topic of attention got me thinking and in studying brought me to a passage in Matthew 6.
Matthew 6:1-8 (NKJV) 1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 “that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly. 5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who [is] in the secret [place;] and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen [do.] For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”
That was a lot of scripture, so to simplify and sum it up, verse one is saying don’t do charitable deeds to be seen doing good things- don’t make a scene because you did something right so you can get attention and appreciation from people around you, do it modestly and humbly because that is what God will reward. Then it goes on to talk about how we should not be worshipping God or praying at the altar to look cool to everyone else, to look more righteous than everyone else- do it only for the attention of the one who you worship.
This topic also reminded me of something that was spoken on at one of the NAYC 2019 Hyphen sessions, this session was convicting, to say the least, to myself and those in this social media driven generation. She spoke about how we are all kingdom minded, but whose kingdom– God’s or our own; how the promotion of our own kingdoms on Social Media is killing the kingdom we are supposed to be promoting; how comparing ourselves amongst ourselves is dangerous and she reminded us that the Kingdom of God is not predicated by how we look to others.
There is a passage in Luke 20 about the Pharisees and how they would go through the streets drawing attention to themselves. When I researched who the Pharisees were, because let’s be honest, we hear about them often in preaching or Bible studies but we might not know who they necessarily are; well it turns out the Pharisees were a social movement and school of thought in Israel, they were highly esteemed theologians who thought they were ‘hot stuff’ and they paraded through the streets to make sure the people took notice of their superiority.
Luke 20:45-47 (NKJV) 45 Then, in the hearing of all the people, He said to His disciples, 46 “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, 47 “who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”
Along this topic, I saw this scripture:
Mark 1:17 (NKJV) Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”
I was reading through this scripture, trying to simplify it a little bit, and something stuck out to me- the words follow me. Now, how many people have we met and said Hey, follow me on instagram so you guys can keep up with each other. But let me ask you this- did you hit the follow back button for Jesus. He is commanding us to follow him, right? We should be giving our time and attention firstly to Jesus, because he will give us everything we need- the reward that we want, the attention- because the ultimate reward is spending eternity with him anyways.
Let me summarize with this, attention-seeking behavior is not the behavior we need to have. The attention that we should be seeking is the attention of the one who created us with a purpose. When the world gives you attention, redirect it to the one who truly deserves it, because as much as you put effort into your successes, you could not have done it without Jesus- he brought you there, he gave you what you needed- so redirect the attention to him.
My prayer for us Apostolic Girls is that we will recognize who we are giving our attention to and that we will find our worth and turn our attention to the one who saved us.