There have been a lot of thoughts churning around in this brain of mine that I've wanted to write on here for a while now (I won't even get into how long it's been since my last post). Here's one of them, and after reading my initial post on Social Media & the "Fear of Men," it seems that this is just an extension of what I wrote previously...
I've noticed a lot recently just how LOUD our culture is in promoting themselves. Maybe I sense this so much because I've come to realize - and be ok with - the fact that my personality both musically and personally is such that I'm more of a subtle, quiet kind of guy. But man, it sure feels like it's a giant game of "who can talk the loudest game."
I've spent the past couple months re-reading the Sermon on the Mount. God has used it to speak to me in fresh ways, and in this particular case, I just can't help but hear Jesus' words ringing in my head...
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." (Matthew 6:1-4)
The key part of this for me is when Jesus says that, when people go out of their way to make their good deeds known to other people, they've already received their reward. As to say, you've got what you came for - the attention and hype! But the reward Jesus really wants the people to be after is the one that comes from the Father. And notice: when he says "your Father who sees in secret will reward you," he doesn't say what he'll reward you with. I don't think this is an accident...in fact, I think it's the brilliance of Jesus, and I think it's Him ultimately saying to us "your reward will be God Himself."
And so, Jesus is ultimately commending/giving approval to those whose heart is NOT to boast about all the great things they're doing. He's giving validity to NOT hyping yourself, so long as the reward you're seeking after is faithfulness and approval from God Himself. My oh my, how this kind of heart is forgotten (and even shunned) in our culture.
In recent weeks, God has used all these thoughts to teach me how to be content just to BE QUIET. To simply stop caring about what boasting about myself might get me, and to fix my eyes on the unseen (yet ever-so-precious) reward of God's delight and approval of me. And I can honestly say that it's made me infinitely happier.
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One more thought...jazz musicians have always been FIERCELY INDIVIDUAL, right? As I briefly mentioned above, I now know (and am really learning to embrace) who I am musically: I'm someone who's way more into subtlety, nuance, space, and beauty rather than power, pyrotechnics, playing lots of notes or getting "house." The connecting thought here is this: I'm already a more reserved, subtle kind of person. Why not treat my social media/promoting myself in the same way? Maybe the Lord is calling me to be fiercely individual by NOT boasting about myself like the rest of the world. Maybe that's one aspect of what's going to make me really be ME and stand out...and of course it would! That's what Jesus made sure his disciples knew when he told them, in essence, that their lives won't look like the world's. They'll be condemned and hated for it. But, oh how much greater their reward will be!!
Still lots to work out, and this became much longer than I originally anticipated (story of my life). But, it's exciting to me to know that these things I'm thinking about are putting me on a trajectory towards finding my reward in God. I'm all in for that.