After many years of diverse career experience, I was excitedly counting down the days until my retirement. I eagerly anticipated being in control of my schedule and time while enjoying a slower pace of life. I envisioned more days devoted to serving in ministry at my church and deepening relationships...
Social media is everywhere today.
We can’t watch anything on TV without being reminded of the option to tweet about what we are watching. Now with smartphones we can use social media in the car, in the bathroom, at a meeting, and even—gasp!– at church.
While there are many advantages to social media, we should ask the question: Is it good for us? More importantly, how can we obey the Great Commandment to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength while using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+?
1. Are you seeking to glorify God through social media?
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
The foundational question “Are you seeking to glorify God?” can be addressed to any situation in life because we were created to glorify God (Isaiah 43:7). When we stray from our life’s God-given purpose, we quickly fall away from where God wants us to be.
2. Does social media lead you into sin?
If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. (Matthew 5:29)
Social media is itself a morally neutral thing, neither inherently good nor bad. But when put in the hands of sinful human beings, it should be no surprise that it can be used for a host of sinful behaviors: bullying, sinful relationships, sexual perversion, worldly ideas, and allowing yourself to be led astray by bad influences. Pray that God would reveal your sins and the idols that may exist or be fed through social media, and for the grace and power to repent.
3. Does your speech build up or tear down?
From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. (James 3:10)
Social media is rampant with gossip, bullying, pessimism and complaining. Instead of conforming to the world, be a light and use your words to build others up. Know your weaknesses and be on your guard when someone posts something that pushes one of your buttons. Before you post, pray Psalm 19:14: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
4. Do people see the light of Christ in you based on what you post?
…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
Social networks present a unique opportunity to let your light shine before others by show the hope you have in Jesus Christ. You are able to challenge and encourage others to believe in Christ and follow him. Don’t forget the awesome opportunity you have to proclaim to the world the unsearchable riches of Christ!
5. Is social media your master?
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)
Don’t become a slave to the beeping of your phone or computer and always be checking your notifications online. Do you really need to check each notification, or can you check a few times throughout the day? Instead of constantly checking notifications with spare moments, read Scripture, pray, or let your mind rest.
6. Does your use of social media help you redeem the time?
…making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:16)
Let’s be honest: Some social media sites act as a black hole that suck up our time. It can be easy to go on Facebook to “check one thing” and to stay on for an hour. What else could you have done with that hour? Was that making the best use of the short life God has given you?
7. Does your use of social media help you renew your mind in God’s truth?
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
God can use little moments we give to him throughout our day to grow us, including time on social media. You can use your Facebook and Twitter streams to grow your faith by following accounts that honor God. I have sought to develop the discipline to stop and read Scripture whenever I see it posted to remind me that everything else posted is of limited importance compared to the Word of God that has eternal importance (1 Peter 1:24-25).
8. Do you use social media as a platform to complain?
Do all things without grumbling or disputing… (Philippians 2:14)
Paul had a lot he could have complained about (2 Corinthians 11:23-28), yet he still tells us to “do all things without grumbling or disputing.” Some turn to social media to complain, but God’s will for his children is that they give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Which characterizes you: thankfulness or constant complaining?
9. Do you use social media for unprofitable arguments?
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. (Proverbs 18:2)
There is no shortage of social media arguments about politics, sports, religion – you name it! While some conversations can prove profitable, many others are a waste of time. Instead of arguing with fools, invest your time and energy into something more worthwhile.
10. Do you value social media interactions more than real-life relationships?
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39)
God made us for relationships. Increasingly today, these relationships can take place through technology and can make people less social in real life. (So much for social media!) Instead of merely “liking” a picture or favoriting a tweet, invest in real relationships by having meaningful conversations. Take the extra step by letting people important to you know that you care about them. Or take an even greater extra step – actually talk with your friend face-to-face!
11. Does social media make you a healthier and more productive person?
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:5)
Social media causes some people to have a shorter attention span, lose sleep, and even be depressed. Is that you? God desires that we honor God with not only our body, but also our entire being. Don’t let social media suck away your ability to follow that command.
12. Do you have any relationships through social media that you should cut off?
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
Social networks like Facebook and Twitter make it easy to connect with everyone you’ve ever known – for better or for worse. Some of our connections can discourage us in our faith or lure us into sins like gossip, bullying, and rekindling unhealthy relationships. Many divorces today are caused by discontented spouses rekindling old flames on Facebook. Don’t let this happen to you! Exercise godly wisdom and cut off “bad company” that will hinder a holy life.
13. Does social media help you be content?
…godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6)
Social media can add fuel to the fire of covetousness and insecurity because it can lead us to compare ourselves to others and their relationships, possessions, and lifestyle. Have you ever thought that your friend always posting pictures of their possessions might not be content? The secret to contentment is not having everything you want, but being thankful with what you have. May we learn to be like Paul who learned to be content in every situation (Philippians 4:11-13).
14. Do you use social media to boost your ego?
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36)
We can believe the lie that we only have value if people follow us or like our posts. If your mood depends on the number of “Likes” or “Retweets” your post receives, you care too much about gaining the approval of man. Rejoice in the fact that the gospel says that God accepts you because of what Christ had done.
15. Do you use social media to hide?
Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give. (Proverbs 25:14)
Have you ever known someone who acts cool online but is a radically different person in real life? Unfortunately, social media can act as a mask hiding our true identity. The root of this issue is pride – we want people to think we are cool and have it all together. Remember the truth of James 4:10: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”