You’ve practically come to expect it. Log on to Facebook, Twitter, or any other number of social media sites and within seconds you will come across a flurry of arrogant, mean spirited, and down right hateful comments that will turn your stomach. Every single political, religious, or social issue that exists quickly draws dozens, hundreds, and even thousands of quick responses by opinionated people who feel that their personal perspective is more valid than the next. I’ve even seen Christians fight with each over matters such as child-rearing decisions and education choices, and preachers petty enough to attack other preachers simply over sermon style and technique. What originally began as a useful tool for staying in contact with people separated by time and distance has become one of the single greatest threats to human decency to ever exist.
I’m going to be brutally honest. I’ve lost respect for people based on what they’ve posted on social media. There are preachers I wouldn’t invite to speak or even walk across the road to hear because of what I’ve seen them post on social media. There are Christians that I no longer trust based on what they’ve posted on social media. There are people I’ve known for years that I’m ashamed of because of what they’ve posted on social media. You come to expect certain things from certain people. People in the world are going to act like people of the world, after all. But it should be different for Christians. So before you choose to post that comment, publicize that opinion, or attack that person based on their opinion, ask yourself 6 questions.
Is it true?
Did you know that not every meme, GIF, or linked “news” story is true? We live in a world where anybody of any intellectual level or degree of honesty can build a website, Photoshop a picture, or attribute a false quote to a reputable person. That’s not to say that everything you see online is false, but a lot of it isn’t true. As Christians we should be concerned with reflecting truth at all times, and that means fact-checking, researching, and making sure that anytime we click “post” that what we post is as accurate as it can possibly be, or we don’t post it at all.
Is it honorable?
People used to be concerned with being honorable. They wanted to be respected, decent, and have a good reputation. Those were qualities more valuable than any amount of money, power, or possession. But among many things included in being an honorable person is the need to treat others in an honorable way. Isn’t that the basis of the Golden Rule – “All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12). Ask yourself, “what does this post or comment say about me.” That will help determine whether or not it is honorable.
Is it just?
Or is it fair? You’ve come to some conclusion about something or someone. You’ve made a judgment or have called someone else’s judgment into question. You’ve chosen to tell someone they are wrong, called their integrity into question, etc. Is it fair for you to have done so? On what reason or rationale have you based your assessment? Comments on social media often assume the worst in each other. The Bible says that love dictates we assume the best, at least until proven otherwise (1 Corinthians 13:5). The way we treat each other ought to be a big deal. Sadly for many it just isn’t anymore. We gripe, complain, and air every frustration that comes into our backwards little minds – but never stop to ask ourselves if what we think or say is just.
Is it pure?
Impure comments come from impure thoughts that can only originate in impure minds. Jesus said that “the things which proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart; and they defile the man” (Matthew 15:18). What you choose to say on social media is a reflection of your heart. You may excuse your behavior by saying that no one can judge your heart, but you put your heart on full display in what you choose to post. Many times we associate impurity just with things of a sexual nature, but impurity is much broader than that. Jesus went on to associate “evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and railings” with impurity (vs. 19). Pure hearts produce pure thoughts that produce pure things. What about what you’re posting? Is it pure?
Is it lovely?
The gospel is called “glad tidings of good things” because it reflects beautiful truths (Romans 10:15). The things we say can be just as lovely when we make sure they reflect beautiful truths. We’re talking about things that encourage, build up, and strengthen. Not things that destroy, tear down, and weaken. Paul put it this way – “So then let us follow after things which make for peace, and things whereby we may edify one another” (Romans 14:19). But so much of what is posted doesn’t reflect beautiful truths. Instead much of what’s posted is just plain ugly. Is what you’re posting lovely?
Is it of good report?
If something is not of good report then the only other possibility is that it’s evil. Things that are of good report are productive. They are words of kindness and compassion. Things that are of good report will never be hateful or spoken in anger. They will reflect godly ambition and eternal well-being. Ask yourself whether what you want to post is something you would want God to read. Would you be happy for Him to see it or would you be ashamed? All things are open to His sight. He knows every comment we post, every word we say, and every thought we have. So I’ve got a feeling that so much of what God sees posted on social media is so evil that it makes Him weep. So when you post make sure that what you post is of good report.
I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now, but you know these aren’t six rules that I just came up with. These are six principles developed from Paul’s statement in Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there by any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things.” What we post online is a reflection of our thoughts, so if we will just saturate our hearts with things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and of good report what comes out of it will be as well. Let’s make these principles of Christianity affect everything in our lives, particularly the way we treat each other online.