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Social Media Boundaries, Part 1

John Gilman August 11, 2016

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We live in a world where everyone has an opinion, whether about politics, religion, food or their favorite TV show. People have always had opinions, but now social media allows them to constantly be broadcast across multiple outlets. It can get exhausting!

How does this affect us as believers? We are entitled to our opinions, just like everyone else. Certainly church leaders hear from congregants on their opinions of the music, message, flowers, etc. Do we have a responsibility to temper the way we express ourselves on social media? Are we accountable to anyone for what we say or how we say it? These are issues, as Christ followers, we should wrestle through before we state strong opinions on social media and before we hit enter as we comment on other people’s posts.

What we put on social media reflects not only ourselves and our families, but if we are Christ followers, it directly reflects Christ. If you serve as a staff member, lay leader or volunteer at a local body of believers, it also reflects your church. Although Jesus did not have to deal with Facebook or Instagram, the Word of God actually has quite a bit to say on this topic.

4 Questions to Consider Before Posting on Social Media:

•Is it beneficial?

In Ephesians 4:29 we are told, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” We are entitled to our opinion, and in the United States that is considered one of our greatest rights. However, as followers of Christ we are also called to consider others. So before commenting on someone’s controversial Facebook post or responding to someone’s opinion online, consider if what you are about to express will actually benefit the other person, or simply give you the satisfaction of sharing your voice.

•Does it promote peace or conflict?

Sometimes adding our voice to a conversation can bring encouragement and peace. In 2 Corinthians 13:11 we are challenged to “Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace.” Before chiming in online, there is great wisdom in considering what other readers’ reactions might be. Proverbs 12:20 says, “those who promote peace have joy.” If you have ever unintentionally said something online that was misunderstood, you understand how quickly that can create tension in a relationship. It is far better to perhaps avoid conflict by not commenting if your opinion might not promote peace. This leads to the next point…

•Would this be better said in person, because it could possibly be misunderstood?

It is easy to type out a response and expect to be understood but much is lost when we do not have eye contact and face-to-face interaction. A humorous or gently sarcastic retort can be easily mistaken for a sharp answer. As Psalm 15:1 reminds us “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” There are certain things that are better discussed in person to avoid misunderstanding or possible hurt feelings. We show care and consideration when we use discernment over what can be discussed through a computer screen versus over coffee.

•Does it point people to Christ or simply to me?

Another question to ask that gets to the heart of this is “Am I saying this simply to be right or because I need to be heard?” Everything we do as people that claim Christ as Lord, should in the end point back to Him and bring Him glory. If our comment online or what we post simply stirs up conflict without purpose, then we may need to consider another way to communicate. Being right should never be more important than being kind, and our character should be seen even in our online presence. Psalm 19:14 exhorts us in this way, “May these words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” What we post on social media is in essence our “words,” and we want it to be pleasing to Him.

Social media is a powerful outlet and can be used to reach many with a positive message. Will you be known as someone who is an encouragement, promotes peace and brings Jesus glory?

What do you need to consider this week before posting on social media?

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