Social media is everywhere today.
We can’t watch anything on TV without being reminded of the option to tweet about it. Now with smartphones, we can use social media in the car, in class, at a meeting, and even at church.
There are many advantages to social media: worldwide connectivity, instant news updates, growing friendships.
But is constantly using social media 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, and Instagram?
The following questions should help discern your heart and make sure that your social media use is pleasing to God.
Questions to Help Christians Follow Jesus on Social Media
1. Are you seeking to glorify God through social media?
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye 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.
The following questions probe specific ways that we can glorify God through social media and will be a good measure of how your social media use is helping/hindering your spiritual growth and purpose to glorify God.
2. Does social media lead you into sin?
“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast 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 influenced by bad influences.
Like question #1, this is a foundational question that will be in the background of questions 3-15. There are really only two honest answers to this question: Yes and Maybe (or sometimes). Pray that God would reveal your sins and the idols that may exist or be fed through social media, and then pray for the grace and power to repent from that sin. That may mean removing friends or changing who you follow, but you can be sure of this: you will never regret any sacrifice made for the Lord.
3. Does your speech build up or tear down?
“Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” James 3:10
Social media is rampant with gossip, bullying, pessimism and complaining. Instead of being just like the world, be a light in the world by using your words to build others up. Think about what situations or topics might tempt you to speak negatively, and be on your guard when a friend might post something that pushes one of your buttons.
Before you post, pray the prayer the psalmist prayed in Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”
4. Do people see the light of Christ in you based on what you post?
“…Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
The phenomenon of social media is a powerful thing in today’s world. Never before could you so easily keep in touch with people you have met over the course of your whole life around the whole world!
It presents a unique opportunity to let your light shine before others and use it as a ministry. With your updates, you are able to show people the hope that you have in Jesus Christ, and how someone transformed by the gospel lives and thinks. You are also able to challenge and encourage your online connections 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 unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” 1 Corinthians 6:12
It can be easy to 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? Don’t let the beep control you.
“The internet is a poor master, but a useful servant.” Adrian Warnock
6. Does your use of social media help you redeem the time that God has given you?
“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:16
Let’s be honest: some social media sites act as a black hole–sucking up our time and attention like a powerful, mind-numbing vacuum. It can be easy, or even normal, to just go on Facebook or Pinterest to “check one thing” and to stay on for an hour or longer.
What else could you have done with that hour? Was that making the best use of the short life God has given you?
7. Do you use social media as a platform to complain?
“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;” Philippians 2:14-15
The apostle Paul sure knew there were things to complain about in this fallen world and yet he still tells us in Philippians 2 to “do all things without murmuring or disputings.” 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: complaining or giving thanks?
8. Do you use social media for unprofitable arguments?
“A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.” Proverbs 18:2
There is no shortage of social media arguments about politics, sports, religion, you name it! While some conversations can be profitable, many others can be a waste of time and energy.
9. Do you value social media interactions more than real-life relationships?
“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Matthew 22:39
God made us for relationships. Increasingly today, these relationships can take place through digital technology and can make people less social in real life.
Instead of merely “liking” a picture of someone’s new shoes or writing a witty comment on a status, invest in real relationships by having meaningful conversations. A “Like” or a “Poke” isn’t the same thing as a message that shows you really care about someone. Take the extra step by letting people important to you know that you care about them and your relationship. Or take an even greater extra step and actually get together with your friend face-to-face!
10. Do you have any relationships through social media that you should cut off?
“Be not deceived: Evil communication corrupt good manners.”” 1 Corinthians 15:33
Social networks like Facebook and Twitter make it easy to connect with everyone you’ve ever known in your whole life–for better or for worse. Some of our connections can discourage us in our faith or lure us into sin. Social networks can be a gateway for gossip, bullying, and rekindling unhealthy relationships. Many divorces today are caused by discontented spouses rekindling old flames via Facebook.
Don’t let this happen to you. Exercise godly wisdom and cut off “bad company” that could corrupt your good morals.
11. Does social media help you be content?
“…godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6
Social media can be a contentment killer. You see someone post a new pair of shoes and you automatically want a new pair and think your old pair isn’t good enough. You see a friend share about a great vacation he took and you automatically think you need to book a vacation yourself.
Social media can add fuel to the fire of covetousness and insecurity because we so often compare ourselves to others. We should be concerned with what God thinks of us, not man, and follow what God values, not what man values. Have you ever thought that your friend posting pictures of new shoes or information about their vacation might not be content?
The secret to contentment is not having everything you want but being thankful and satisfied with what you have. A discontented heart is never satisfied but has a continual lust for more (Ephesians 4:19). The apostle Paul said that he learned to be content in every situation, whether in abundance, or in need (Philippians 4:11-13). May we learn to do the same.
12. Do you use social media to boost your ego and feel good about yourself?
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36
One lie that social media subtly tells us is that you only have value if people follow you or like your photos. If your mood depends on the number of “Likes” or “Retweets” your status or photo receives, that means you care too much about gaining the approval of man.
Don’t fall into that trap! While there may be some benefit to building a following and developing relationships on social media, you may find building your mood and self-esteem upon the shaky foundation of Instagram and Twitter not as satisfying as you may think.
Instead of treasuring worldly things like Twitter follows or Facebook friends, store up for yourself treasures in heaven that will have eternal value. This will also help you escape the people-pleasing trap that is so common on social networks.
The questions I have posed are meant to help us evaluate our social media practices. Let me be clear, social media can be a great tool if we use it for right purposes. However, we must be discerning about our usage and invite the Holy Spirit to regularly evaluate our usage.
Every facet of our life is to be used to bring glory to God (1 Cor. 10:31). This includes social media.