Social Media and the Subtle Brag

 No mature Christian would say it is okay to brag about oneself.  We know from Scripture that pride is a terrible sin; in fact, the child of God should hate pride and arrogance (Prov. 8:13). Paul even mentions bragging and boasting among those heinous sins in Romans 1:30.  The Christian knows he or she should not go around bragging about themselves, their fortunes, their fame, their family, or their figure (to name just a few).  If someone in a room of 100 people would hold up a big sign that said, “I ran a marathon yesterday and am totally sore today!” or “I’m learning how to roast my own coffee beans,” we’d most likely think it odd and boastful.   Drawing attention to oneself like that can also be called a form of pride.

Social media does have some positives.  However, one negative is that it has made the subtle brag common and acceptable.  Quite often on social media people point out things they have done or are doing.  They post pictures of themselves after a marathon, they put up a photo of themselves struggling to cross a rushing river, and they let everyone know they just experienced fifteen minutes of fame somehow.  Or they post (a humble brag) about something funny that happened to them (which also happens to make them look good).  Many people do this: moms, dads, teens, pastors, teachers, students, and so on.  One effect of these types of posts is that it makes other people jealous or envious.  These posts are also not accurate because they only display a fraction of a person’s life: few people post about their truly embarrassing failures, dark sins, and ugly parts of their lives.  Again, I don’t think social media is bad in and of itself, but I do think one weakness of social media is that it has made the subtle brag acceptable; actually, it might reveal the weakness of humans more!

I appreciate what John Newton said about pride and arrogance in his “Review of Ecclesiastical History”:

“A desire of pre-eminence and distinction is very unsuitable to the followers of Jesus, who made himself the servant of all; very unbecoming the best of the children of men, who owe their breath to the mercy of God, have nothing that they can call their own, and have been unfaithful in the improvement of every talent.  We allow that every appearance of this is a blemish in the Christian character, especially in the Christian minister….”

There’s more to discuss, for sure, but those are good words to ponder as we consider what to post on social media and what not to post!

The above quote is found on page 67 of volume three of John Newton’s Works.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

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A Proverb for Social Media

BRidgesProverbs Here’s an excellent inspired proverb for using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and the like: Proverbs 27:2.  This verse doesn’t use the term “brag” nor does it specifically refer to what we call a “humblebrag,” but the concepts are for sure there:

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips. (NASB)
Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips. (NIV)
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips. (NET)

Here’s how Charles Bridges commented on this verse.  I’ve edited it slightly for length and readability:

‘Praise’ – says an old expositor – ‘is a comely garment.  But though thyself doth wear it, another must put it on, or else it will never sit well about thee.  Praise is sweet music, but it is never tuneable in thine own mouth.  If it comes from the mouth of another, it sounds most tuneably in the ears of all that hear it.  Praise is such a rich treasure but it will never make thee rich unless another tell the same.’  Indeed…nothing so degrades a man with his fellow-men as setting out his own praise….

[Therefore] let our works – not our tongues – ‘praise us in the gates’ (ch. 31:31).  And while our works shine, see to it that ourselves be hid.  ‘Confess your faults to one another’ but leave to another to speak our praise (James 5:16).

Our name will lose nothing by this self-renouncing spirit.  If our own mouth is silent, another’s will be opened.  John was ‘unworthy’ in his own eyes to ‘unloose the latchet of his Master’s shoes.’  Yet his Lord’s mouth did proclaim him as ‘the greatest of all that had been born of women’ (Mt. 3:11).  The centurion spoke of himself as ‘not worthy that Christ should come under his roof.’  Yet his elders did testify that ‘he was worthy for whom he should do this.’  Yes, the Savior’s own mouth confirmed the testimony – ‘I have not found so great faith in all of Israel’ (Lk. 7.3, 4, 9).

Self-seeking is a shameful blot upon Christian profession.  Shall one that has said before God, ‘Behold, I am vile!’ be ready to say before his fellow-men, ‘Come, see my zeal for the Lord! Come, see how humble I am!’  Oh for the self-abased spirit of our glorious Master – ever ready to endure reproach, never seeking his own glory (John 5:41; 8:50). …Surely that we are so little truly humble is matter enough for the deepest humiliation.

Charles Bridges, Proverbs, p. 502-3.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015