“Smile and say cheese!” the young lady says to herself. She snaps the picture and promptly posts it to Facebook where it will join the dozens of others she has previously posted. Now, the entire world will be able to see and comment on how she is just the most beautiful young lady they have ever seen. The selfie is a disturbing trend for many reasons but at the top of the list has to be its relationship to the perilous times described by Paul in which he says people will be “lovers of themselves” (2 Tim. 3:2). As disturbing as this trend is I don’t see it as a new one among God’s people. While smartphone cameras have certainly provided new opportunities for one to show their love of self, it has not led to a new problem in general. Consider the following examples:
A man writes a book; he has something to say and wants to share it with the world. He has information that everyone needs to read and in order to get it into the hands of the masses it must be marketed in just the right way. He asks himself, “What can I do in order to draw attention to the most important aspect of the book?” The answer finally hits him, “I’ll place a picture of myself on the front cover! What better to let the potential buyers know what the book is all about?”
A group of folks are sitting around after dinner one night telling stories of days gone by. Many stories are told but none of them compare to the adventures of one young man. In each round of stories he makes sure to go last so all can see that he has done more, been farther, ran faster, and jumped higher than anyone else could even dream of. He’s just sure that everyone is as interested in listening to his stories as he is in telling them. After all, without the stories how could they ever come to love him as much as he loves himself?
A married couple sees that some other members of the church are being praised for their generosity and love of the brethren. They too would like to receive such praise so they devise a plan to draw some of this much coveted attention their way. They sell a piece of land and give part of the proceeds pretending that all had been given. Surely now others will praise them for their wonderful example of charity. Much to their dismay we know how this story from Acts 5:1-10 ends. Instead of the praise of men they meet the wrath of God. Yes, lying is the sin pointed out in verse 4 but it’s easy to see that love of self was a motivating factor behind the lie.
The sad part is this, the first three stories could all end the same way. I realize not everyone who takes their own picture, has their picture on the cover of a book, or tells stories about themselves is motivated by a love of self. I also realize that if I find myself doing these things I need to really consider my motives as well as the impression I may be giving to others. Those found to be lovers of self will all face the wrath of God at some point unless they repent and become lovers of God. May each of us take Paul’s warning seriously and instead of putting our self out there for all to admire we should be looking in the mirror and asking, “Who do you love?”