by Shelby Turner
If you’re anything like me, one of the first things you do in the morning, for better or worse, is scroll through your social media feed. And as you scroll, your eyes widen, your mind starts spinning, and your heartaches. With one flick of the thumb, our screens can be filled with hate-filled words and atrocious headlines: Doom and gloom. Yet, there are also many benefits to social media. It allows us to connect with others who are not near us, and it can be a vessel for truth and hope. And let’s be honest, it is quite fun and entertaining at times!
So, as people, and especially as Christians, how do we balance the doom and gloom of social media with the benefits and joys? Can we learn to interact with social media well? Is there a way to use it without losing our mind and our cool? I think the answer is yes. There are countless ways to use social media well, but for today I’ll be sharing the three that have been the most helpful for me.
- Embrace Your Limits Knowing that God is Limitless
Social media is filled with traumatic stories, worldwide tragedies, and our friend’s personal problems. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Some of these things need to be given attention and care. However, we all have limits on how much pain we can handle on any given day.
Some days, you may be fueled to fervent prayer and righteous action by the headlines you read. Other days, you may be dealing with your own difficult circumstances, and adding onto them the problems of others is just simply too much. This is when we need to know and respect our limits while remembering we serve a limitless God.
If we have reached our limit and need to set our phones aside, we can rest assured that God is attentive and active in every dire situation worldwide. The hope for the salvation of the world rests on God alone, not on our presence or absence on social media.
Passages like Psalm 147:3-6 put our minds at rest in the sovereignty of God. It says:
He heals the brokenhearted
and bandages their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars;
he gives names to all of them.
Our Lord is great, vast in power;
his understanding is infinite.
The Lord helps the oppressed
but brings the wicked to the ground.
That said, sometimes God will call us to speak, even if we feel timid or are nervous about speaking the truth. Even then, we can trust that the Holy Spirit will empower us, and we can trust in the goodness of our limitless God.
- Strive for Christlike Comments
As much as we want to believe that commenting on a friend’s post is the same as having an in-person conversation with them, it simply is not. There are huge differences between connecting with someone in real life and on social media. I like to imagine that all social media communication happens on a stage in front of hundreds or maybe even thousands of people. Keeping this perspective in mind will help determine our responses. Everything we say online is on display, so let’s be sure we are displaying Christ!
Proverbs is a fantastic place to go to learn what it would look like to comment in wisdom and with Christlikeness. Perhaps considering the following proverbs will help us decide when to speak up and when to stay quiet; there is surely a time for both on social media.
Don’t let your mouth speak dishonestly, and don’t let your lips talk deviously. — Proverbs 4:24
There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword; but the tongue of the wise brings healing. — Proverbs 12:18
Don’t speak to a fool, for he will despise the insight of your words. — Proverbs 23:9
Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy. — Proverbs 31:9
- Filter Every Post with the Truth
When Christians choose to post or comment on social media, we should do our best to filter everything we say through the truth of God’s Word. I surely don’t get this right every time, but pausing to ask myself, “Do I know what I am about to post is true according to Scripture?” has kept me from posting reactionary and emotionally charged content many times. The verses that I often refer to before I hit post are James 3:13-18.
Who among you is wise and understanding? By his good conduct he should show that his works are done in the gentleness that comes from wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t boast and deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.
I search my heart and my words for envy and selfish ambition. And I assess what I’ve written to be sure it is peace-loving, gentle, full of mercy, and good fruits.
It’s important to note that when this verse refers to peace it means the deep inner peace given by God when you are in a relationship with Him, not superficial peace that avoids all difficult topics. It is okay to talk about hard things online, but it should be done in a way that is humble, gracious, and pure before the Lord. And good fruits are what grows out of the seeds of the kingdom of God being planted in us. These include the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. If what we are about to post is not said with patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control, it may be better not to post at all.
Social media is not in and of itself harmful. However, it can produce pain and chaos in our lives if we do not use it carefully. As Christians, we are called to be lights in the world that reflect the light of the world, Jesus. This includes social media. To be a light, we must take part in social media in a way that honors the Lord by knowing when to log off, when to stay quiet, and how to speak up in a godly way.
How would you assess your social media health? Is it time to make a change? Take some time to think and pray about what changes you might make to engage with social media in a Christlike way.
For more information on this subject, check out our podcast episode on the same subject: Episode 103: Your Social Media Habits and Your Heart.