We made it together through another year. You and I plus billions of other people get to start a brand new year on social media together. We may be only intimately acquainted with a few, yet we all share this space together. What you write and what I write and what they write all get mixed into the same news feeds and timelines. As we consider our new year of opportunities together, please allow me to challenge you to consider asking yourself three questions from Matthew 22 related to your social media use.
Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
Jesus spoke these works when He was asked what the greatest commandment was. So, in these words of Jesus, we get the bottom line or the summary of everything Jesus thought about how God expects us to live. Although He said it so simply, living consistent with the greatest commandments is not as simple – even in social media!
Using these two verses as our foundation, here are three questions you can ask yourself as you share life with me and billions of others on social media. I’ll use the word post to capture all the various means of sharing something through social media whether it is text, pictures, or any combination of the two.
Does my post honor and glorify God?
This first question deals with the first great commandment – our relationship with God. Although honoring and glorifying God are inextricably connected, let’s consider them as two ideas.
First, to honor God relates to your disposition. This is about you, your attitude, and your desires. As you prepare to post, what is your attitude and does your attitude bring honor to God? Would God read your post (although He already knows the idea on your heart) and be satisfied with what you are sharing? Would He believe your post communicates clearly the heart of a follower of Christ who loves the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind? Would He see your post and be grateful that you sent it?
Second, to glorify God relates to your focus. In other words, if this post was a giant spotlight, who or what is the light shining on in your heart? As you post and repost or prepare to share and prepare to comment on what has been shared, what is the primary emphasis? After someone else views what you have shared, will they walk away thinking more or less of Jesus? Will they think higher or lower of the difference God makes in the lives of people? Will their attention be drawn implicitly or explicitly to the great God we follow in Christ? Would others identify your post consistent with a Christ-centered, gospel-centered, cross-centered follower of Christ?
Does my post encourage or serve others?
This second question deals with the second great commandment – our relationship with others. Loving your neighbor like you love yourself includes both components of encouragement and service.
First, to encourage others relates to your hopes for your reader’s inner response. As people read your post, do you hope they are encouraged and built up? Do you want your post to help them see God’s goodness? Do you want them to see the grace of God as demonstrated in a statement, a picture, or a post? Do you desire for them to respond to your post with wholesome, positive, and uplifting thoughts? Is your goal to produce positive emotions? Do you want your post to engender greater love for others? Does your post reflect respect, demonstrate kindness, or assume the best toward others? Do you hope that your contribution on social media impacts the reader in enriching and inspiring ways?
Second, to serve others relates to your hopes for your reader’s quality of life. How do you think your post may serve the one who reads it? Will it motivate them to serve others? Will it help others resolve to do better, make better quality decisions, or do what is best for others? Are you sharing something that when read, contemplated, and remembered will help the reader grow, be challenged, or demonstrate greater Christlikeness?
What is my motivation for sharing this post?
This question relates to the reality that sin makes it difficult to consistently love God and love others more than self. When in autopilot, every person loves himself or herself more than God or others. It is natural. Our shared challenge is not to love ourselves more; instead, it is to love God and others more than self. Christ died to deal with our sin and perpetual desire to serve ourselves first and foremost. As a follower of Christ, we can now put God and others first – even in our social media.
So, what motivates your post? Do you hope for others to see you better? Do you desire to present a false view of yourself to others? Does your post reflect a heart that wants people to focus on you, your opportunities, your skills, your strengths, and your abilities? Are you seeking to make yourself bigger, smarter, better, richer, prettier, healthier, superior, or more popular in the eyes of others, even if it is at the expense of God or others? Do you want to present an image that is not actual? Do you want your friends to envy you? Do you desire attention? Are you the hero in your own mind and want others to make you their hero as well?
So what do you post?
We live life in process. We experience life while reacting to life in real time. It is difficult getting it right all the time. A quick send. A quick snap. A quick response. A quick decision which may not be consistent with the first and second greatest commandments.
So how do you work through these three questions? Simply, take a few moments before you post to consider what it is you are sharing. Be patient to allow yourself the time to ask these three questions. If your desired post does not honor and glorify God, fails to encourage or serve others, or is motivated by love of self rather than God or others, then postpone your post. Give yourself time to consider your post more, contemplate the possible reaction of others, and evaluate your true motive.
Let’s work together to make 2015 the most profitable and God-honoring year ever on social media.