We live in a day in which there are many venues to express one’s thoughts and opinions, or even share biblical truths. It can be encouraging and at times entertaining to read other’s thoughts on popular topics or current trends in culture or ministry. Eventually, we each may try our hand at social media. Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and the like have become second nature to this technologically savvy generation. While I don’t condemn the medium, I believe we should consider our motives. What moves us to write?
Are you raving mad when you write? I have to admit that there are times when I read something that just infuriates me. If it were a published article in a magazine or paper, I probably wouldn’t take the time to sit down and write a “Letter to the Editor.” If I did, I might lose my head of steam before I got done writing and decide against it (or write it in a more gracious manner). But not anymore! With social media, I can fire off a comment in the anonymity of my home and before I have time to regret it, I will already be getting responses. Then ensues a Facebook fight or Twitter tussle for everyone to see! Not very Christian, I know.
When you sit down to write, do you do it like you are loading a gun or wrapping a present? When you load a gun, you intend to do some damage. Each chamber is filled with a projectile that will be aimed at some perceived enemy. Then, we pull the trigger. “Shoot first, ask questions later,” seems to be the motto in social media.
But gift wrapping is different. It brings joy to the giver as they load the box with helpful things. I am not saying that we don’t confront wrong doing, but our motivation should be to disciple, not damage—to win a brother, not an argument.
Let me offer some things to consider before you pull the trigger:
1. Should This Be Private?
“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”— Matthew 18:15
If your greatest concern is to convince a brother, then grandstanding on social media is not your best bet. You cause them to have to save face, even if they recognize they are wrong. They may change their opinion about the topic but not about you. “Open letters” and online battles do not serve well the cause of Christ!
2. Should This Be Passed Over?
“The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.”— Proverbs 19:11
Proverb: He who has little sense cannot afford to put his “two cents” in. Ok, I just made that up. But why does it seem that those who have done the least say the most? It appears that there is a discretion drought. Discretion defers anger and attention about other’s faults.
3. Should This Be Put Off?
They say you should never procrastinate unless you are a computer programmer—in which case, you will probably have a better idea later. Can I add Twitter to the list?
“He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.”— Proverbs 14:29
4. Should This Be Pursued?
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”— Ephesians 4:29
There comes a time that something must be said for the edification of others. But often the ones commenting on the problem demonstrate their own lack of spiritual maturity in their answer. Then the problem is compounded. Maybe we should say, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your smartphone, tablet, laptop...”
If all else fails, use the Scriptural “sniff test.”
“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”— Colossians 4:5–6
We are called to be the salt of the earth, not the pepper. Maybe we can shake a little salty speech out on Twitter and Facebook and prevent “unsocial media.”