Walking in Integrity on Social Media
BY PASTOR MARC EIDAHL | NEW LIFE BISMARCK CAMPUS PASTOR
What would Jesus think of what I post on Social Media? Do the same commands given in Scripture regarding what I say, what I do, and how I treat others also apply to Social Media?
Social Media has spread like wildfire in just the past few years. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and more have created personal platforms for all users to be seen and heard. In a world where personal opinions are being expressed very freely on an increasing number of issues that continue to divide our culture, it is vitally important that as a follower of Jesus Christ we walk in the Spirit, not just in person, but also online! Here are some quick pointers to keep in mind regarding our use of Social Media:
1) Share Truth, Stop Lies
Not everything we read on the internet is true! Before we share something, take the time to check the facts. Personally, I very seldom ever share a news article because there is so much fake news today. Even mainline media is no longer unbiased and is usually slanted toward a certain group or opinion. We must remember that what we share on Social Media influences a certain number of people. Many times we develop very deep feelings for or against certain individuals or groups. It can be very tempting to share things that attempt to justify us and condemn others.
"Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart," Proverbs 18:8.
We will be held accountable for things we've shared online just like we will for those words we've spoken in person. Jesus when speaking to the Pharisees after they stated "He casted out demons by the prince of demons" had this to say to His accusers:
"But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment,” Matthew 12:36.
Let's be careful what we share and be sure we're sharing truth in an appropriate manner.
2) Walk in Integrity & Character
One with true integrity and character is the same person behind closed doors as they are in public. This applies also to Social Media. So many people have a certain "boldness" online that they don't walk in when in person. It's easy to try to come off as courageous on Facebook and then score ego points for every "like" our post gets. This is a worldly boldness that wouldn't last if we were really confronted for our beliefs! Remember Peter? He expressed a worldly boldness when he sliced the centurion's servants ear off. Was Peter really courageous that day? Obviously not! Just a little while later he cowers when confronted by a little servant girl.
Peter later received true & Godly boldness! I believe it came about through the restoration with Jesus and the baptism in the Holy Spirit. He preached with boldness to a mocking and hostile crowd on the day of Pentecost, and 3,000 were born again! Worldly boldness is driven by anger & resentment, and Godly boldness is driven by love & compassion. Are you broken over the lost and ungodly behavior of others or are you just angry about it?
When we spout off on Social Media, believe me, people can tell what spirit we are of! If we shout in a wrong spirit we will chop people's ears off so no one will listen to us anyway. Let's be sure we are operating in the fruit of the Spirit and Godly boldness. Remember, Godly boldness is always rooted in love.
3) Deal with Grievances in Person
Sometimes people will have an offense with someone and share it all over Social Media. We think that if we don't name the person then we are not really gossiping. Really? Social Media has provided an easy way for us to get those coveted "likes" that validate our feelings. But how should we be validated? Who should we get our validation from?
If you have an offense with someone, go to them personally and deal with it (Matthew 18:15-17). If it is geographically impossible to go to them, then call them. But it certainly doesn't need to be shared on Social Media for everyone to see. Our validation should come from God Himself and our obedience to His Word, not from “likes” from our social media friends.
4) Minister for the Glory of God
I realize that people use Social Media for a variety of reasons. Some use it to stay connected to old friends and family that are scattered abroad. Others use it share updates on their life happenings (sometimes literally every detail). I personally use Social Media more as a ministry platform. I may share some personal highlights at times, but mostly I sense such a drivenness to challenge culture with the Bible! So I share a lot of Scripture or statements that are absolutely rooted in Scripture that cause both followers of Jesus and those who are not followers of Jesus to think.
Some might say this is sharing an opinion, and you're right! It's just not my opinion - It's God's! It doesn't matter to me how many "likes" I get on my posts. What matters to me is releasing words that both encourage and challenge people in their thinking in hopes that we will grow nearer to God.
NOTE: Be aware of matters of conscience (Romans 14). Some issues are not spelled out in black & white in the Bible and may be a personal matter of conscience between an individual and God Himself. It is becoming increasingly common for people to express their matters of conscience shaming anyone who doesn’t think the way they do. We should not try to shame people into agreement with us in these matters.