This blog post originally was posted on November 15, 2016.
Everything goes online.
Social media has become the place for all of our opinions, selfies, emojis, recipe videos, news, and memes. We share (and share and share) on the Internet.
But Christians, be careful. When the Bible warns that “the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness,” (James 3:6), we ought to be especially aware of the communication we broadcast to the world.
Here are some guiding questions for us to ask before we post:
Am I complaining?
Probably I am. It’s likely that the words I’m about to share are bad-tempered and whiny. Most days it seems like that’s why social media was invented: to air our grievances. You name it, we moan about it.
But Christians are to “do all things without grumbling” (Philippians 2:14). That’s uncomfortably clear. If you’re complaining, backspace, backspace, backspace.
Does it build others up?
Or, asked another way, who could be hurt (maybe even unintentionally) by the post I'm about to publish?
You don’t have to only share inspirational quotes or pictures of sunsets. But the Bible says: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up” (Ephesians 4:29a). If it tears down, keep it to yourself.
Do I trust and endorse the source?
This question applies when you are about share someone else’s post.
You might feel the need to re-post a particular quote or photo or news article – but verify it first. For Christians, truth is paramount. Don’t spread lies.
And pause before you share anything from a person or organization you don’t know well. When you share something posted by someone else, you are not only supporting that single message, but you are stamping your approval on whoever first posted it. Are they reliably reflecting your Christian values? If the answer is “no,” just don’t share it.
Is it careless?
Scripture tells us to be “slow to speak” (James 1:19), and the proverb states that "rash words are like sword thrusts” (Proverbs 12:18). Have you given this post any forethought? If not, it’s probably not ready to be displayed for all.
What impact might this have on my witness?
Consider your post from the perspective of your unbelieving skeptical friend. From the perspective of someone in your Sunday School class. From the perspective of your children. Is your post hypocritical? Is it misleading? Is it in any way approving of or promoting sin? Don’t post it if it leads others away from the Good News of Jesus.
Christians, how we interact with the world – in person or online – matters. We have a Gospel to proclaim and a Savior to imitate. Let’s consider before posting and represent Jesus well.