5 Questions Before You Hit 'Post'
There may be nothing else currently shaping our culture quite like social media is. It has exploded into our lives and is changing the way we communicate, interact, and even think. Chances are, as you are currently reading this post, you have several apps a scroll and a click away that you have opened in the last hour. Not saying this is bad—just more than likely true. It’s the world we live in. And there are many benefits that social media brings to our lives. But there are also dangers.
Social media has become a platform where followers of Jesus have done damage to the reputation of Christ. Not only that, they have damaged their own souls and the hearts of others by what they have posted. As Christians, the Lord calls us to think deeply, biblically, and honestly about all that we do. God cares about each action, every motivation of our hearts, and each word that comes out of our mouths. In 1 Corinthians 10:31, we are called to do “all things” to the glory of God—I’m sure this includes your individual interaction with social media.
5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Hit “Post”
1. Is it careless? If we listen closely, we can almost hear Jesus whispering, “You will give an account for every careless word you speak, tweet, post, share, or snap.” Scripture teaches us that we will give an account for every careless word we speak. As believers who live in the 21st century, this surely includes the words, videos, and images we post on social media. Believers are steered towards wise stewardship of all things—including our words. Have you thought of what others will think of your post? How will it make the Lord look? Will it wrongly offend someone or cause another brother or sister in the Lord to stumble? In a culture where many hit the post button without thinking of the implications, followers of Christ should not be as careless with their words.
2. Does it fall into the list of things that God hates? Hate is a strong word. Yet it is used by the Lord to describe how He feels towards specific actions and attitudes. When the Bible mentions something that God hates, we can be sure it is the Lord steering us away from harmful and destructive behaviors—both to ourselves and others. Additionally, when we participate in what the Lord hates, we reflect an untrue and unbiblical picture of the Lord with our lives. Proverbs 6:16-19 are helpful verses to reflect upon when considering what to share publicly on social media.
3. Is it motivated by a highly emotional moment and what is your motivation and intent? We say things when we’re highly emotional that we wouldn’t say at other times. And often, they are words we wish we could take back. When we are highly emotional, wisdom gives way to the desire to be right and have our opinion heard. Emotions cause us to blow past and not even consider that what we may be posting is coming from a heart that is full of sinful and improper motivations. See, the Lord doesn’t just care about what we do, but also why we do it. Is what you’re posting selfish? Is it divisive? Is it hurtful? Are you posting it simply so you can look good or appear a certain way to others? What are you hoping will happen when others read your post or view your picture? For an additional question, please read Proverbs 18:2.
4. Does it build up or tear down? Scripture leads us to do all things without grumbling, complaining, and disputing. But if you open any social media app and scroll down, you’ll more than likely notice a lot of the above behavior from God’s children. And it should not be so. Social media can be extremely helpful to infuse life, encouragement, truth, and hope in the hearts of others. But not if we use it as a platform to tear down, complain, and engage in very-public disputes. We are called to be “lights in the midst of darkness.” It’s easy to see the darkness our culture brings into social media. As Christians, let’s bring some light. James 3:10 teaches us that we should not bless and praise God with our words one moment, and curse and tear others down with them in the next.
5. Is it the best use of your time? Ephesians 5:15-16 states, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of your time, because the days are evil.” For some, what you post is harmless and would not lead you to violate some of the Scriptures we have already talked about. But, because you give so much time to posting, reading, and sharing on social media, you may not be using your time in the best way possible.
A Brief Glimpse of the Good
There are many, many good things about social media. It allows families and friends to stay connected, pictures and videos allow us to see moments of loved ones that we would otherwise miss, and it can lead us to spiritual truth (from some of the best Bible teachers on the planet right now) that builds up our souls. Personally, I have found several reasons as to why I participate and engage in social media. For example, Twitter allows me access to several short gospel reminders throughout the day that encourage me and stir my affections for Christ. I can also use social media to encourage others and remind them to pay attention to their souls—something the Book of Hebrews tells me to do as a member of the body of Christ.
I also find some of the things I view on social media as a welcomed distraction from life when it seems unusually difficult. We can view and get information about the hobbies and other activities that we enjoy. If this is done in moderation, I view this distraction as a gift from the Lord—it can provide a much needed and welcomed “break.”
Here to Stay
Whether you like it or not, social media is here to stay. It is strange to think that there are children growing up who have no concept of what it is like to live without sharing their words and everyday moments with the world via social media. To them, it’s as normal as shopping for groceries and putting gas in their cars—just another part of life. Its permanence and popularity give Christians even more reason to engage social media with wisdom, caution, and thoughtfulness.
When it comes to many actions and thoughts that come from our culture, Christians have three options. (1) We can receive it and take part in it in the same way our culture does, (2) we reject it as sinful or unwise and stay away from it, or (3) we redeem it by approaching it with biblical wisdom and the help of the Spirit’s leading. I believe social media is something we as Christians can and should redeem. Will you do your part to contribute to this redemption?