Social Media is a never-ending conversation. People from all around the globe connect via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest (the list goes on) to share ideas, argue for positions, document daily life, or just share relevant memes and GIFs on every single post they can find.
Sadly, even for Christians, social media is typically a nasty place. It’s as if Christians have decided that Scriptural principles of communication don’t extend to the internet. They’ll be friendly to their next door neighbor, but spew hateful, hurtful words online.
Does your online testimony line up with Scripture? Here are 10 Proverbs that should guide our use of social media:
“A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
but a wise man quietly holds it back.”
Social media is probably the absolute worst place to vent, but it seems to be the most popular avenue. Be wise and hold it back. If there is something you just need to get off your chest, talk to a trusted friend, family member, or better yet, your loving heavenly Father.
“If a wise man has an argument with a fool,
the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.”
Although few and far between, there is a time and place for a "Facebook debate." Do you try to drown out the voices of disagreement by raging and laughing? When you realize that you're on the wrong side of the argument, do you resort to name-calling, character assault, or correcting grammar?
“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion.”
Do you find a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction when you 'speak your mind' on social media? Perhaps social media would be of greater benefit if we used it to hear and learn from others instead of making sure everyone else hears and learns from us.
“If one gives an answer before he hears,
it is a folly and shame.”
Don't even think about commenting on that blog article until you've read the whole thing, or even worse, don't share it after reading only the title. Hear both sides of an argument before throwing your hat in the ring. Listen carefully and take time to digest before you start typing.
“When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”
If you're an avid user of social media, there's a good chance you have tweeted or posted something you regret. Political figures and celebrities get in trouble for things they tweeted years ago. As tempting as it might be to post that edgy, controversial thought, it might be more prudent to simply put your phone down.
“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
If you want a clear window into the depravity of man's heart, just scroll through your news feed. If "rash words are like sword thrusts," then social media is a gruesome crime scene. As Christians, we should bring healing through our use of social media instead of thrusting daggers at others, but that won't happen if we don't think before we type.
"Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own
is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears."
Don't look for a fight. If you're scrounging through social media for no other reason but to look for arguments to join or pages to troll, step back and consider if God is being glorified and the cause of Christ is being furthered by your use of social media.
By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back,
But the lips of the wise will preserve them.
Your own words can get you in trouble. Can people use your comments, status updates, and tweets against you? The wise person is actually preserved by the words he uses, not beaten with them. This means that the words of the wise are carefully chosen, graciously spoken, and consistent with their life and testimony.
“The vexation of a fool is known at once,
but the prudent ignores an insult.”
Do your friends on social media know exactly how to push your buttons? Do they know exactly what gets you riled up? When someone throws an insult your way, do you punch back? The prudent man will quietly ignore an insult. As tough as it may be, don't respond to that harsh tweet or comment. Ask for God's grace and walk away from it.
"A soft answer turns away wrath:
but a harsh word stirs up anger."
If you should decide to comment on a debate, are you coming to make peace or to add fuel to a fire? It can be all too easy to take the side of truth (or at least what we think is true) but to do so by saying unkind and inflammatory things. We forget that somewhere out there our “opponent” is a person made in God’s image that we are called to love.
We need God’s grace to follow these principles. Don’t think that hiding behind your keyboard means you can hide from accountability. How sobering it is to think that “on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matt. 12:36). With the presence of social media, we have a lot more words for which we are accountable. But with the help of the Spirit, we can glorify God and display Jesus Christ in the realm of social media.
Are there other proverbs that you would add to this list? Comment your thoughts below.
Aaron Berry earned both his undergrad and MA in Bible at Bob Jones University. He, along with his wife, Hanna, and daughter, Brooklyn, currently live in Detroit, MI, where Aaron is pursuing his MDiv degree while serving as the Director of Recruitment at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary and working on staff at Inter-City Baptist Church. You can follow him on twitter @AaronMBerry
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