Lucia's Blog: ARE WE GLORIFYING GOD ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Monday, April 27, 2020

ARE WE GLORIFYING GOD ON SOCIAL MEDIA?

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16 

Our social media have created a surreal world for us. We communicate with the world from a safe distance. No eyes can see us unless we want them to. We can say what we really want to say without immediate consequences. It is like being a little drunk: either you become your belligerent self or your sweet self, and sometimes people get hurt. Let's talk about some old Gospel principles that might help our relationships in this new field of experience.

Social media is an incredible resource, an outlet for wit and wisdom. It is an excellent way to connect with people; one would never have met otherwise; to get news and share information broader and faster. On the other hand, it is a place where common sense and decency often die. Many foolish people spew hatred, lunacy, and folly, without a second thought. They do not follow God's wisdom in their social media. Thanks to mediums like Facebook, some take pride in sowing strife and stirring the pot when it would be better to show gentleness, kindness (2 Tim. 2:24), and love (Eph. 4:15).

Some use Facebook as a means to troll others. This is seen in many political posts. Some create memes and images to troll with something that is completely false.  As a result, many believe these lies and share them with others, causing flames of controversy, endless arguments, and divisive issues. How sad!  Memes are used to distort the truth, especially in the political arena.  We must be careful since many news sources can not be trusted!  Many political websites twist reality and distort facts, so people will click on the links and help them generate ad revenue. Take heed!

The venom is sometimes more potent when someone is sharing and defending the Truth and God's principles of righteousness. Many forget that we can tell and defend the Truth without devastating and vehement vituperation. Social media is a weapon at times to instigate and spread division instead of promoting love and unity among brethren. It grieves me greatly when I see my brethren starting brawls and outrage over politics, race, law enforcement, “guilt by association,” and nitpicking the church. Surely we can express our faith and convictions without divisive diversions. Do you think the Lord is pleased with that kind of entertainment and ungodly behavior? The question at stake is: Do you use Facebook and other social media as a tool for the glory of God or as a distraction from spiritual priorities? Is Facebook helping or hindering you from walking in righteousness and holiness?  


I.  HOW SHOULD WE SOCIALIZE ON FACEBOOK OR OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA?

  • Restraint 
“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent” (Proverbs 10:19).

Restraint is the keyword here. It means to hold back, mind our words when posting, or making comments. It is a wise reminder for all of us that we not spout off (brag or boast about anything). In speaking, there is great danger of sinning with our lips. God's wisdom instructs us to abate our words and keep silent as much as possible. He who is wise reflects soberly before he utters any words, for he knows it is easy to sin when words are many, and transgression is not lacking. Our God, the God of wisdom, advises us to be quick to hear and slow to speak (James 1:19).

Remember, that once words are spoken, you can never take them back. The fool often says, “I wish I’d never said that,” or, “Why did I say that?” Do you know that you can save yourself from such misery? Then learn to limit your words and refrain your lips from idle and foolish speech. Hold your tongue!  Cut your words in half. Talk less, and don't sin. Remember, the tongue is a deadly fire (Jas 3:1-12).

When one exercises his listening skills, he talks little. The wise man has learned to restrain his words to acquire knowledge. Thus, he is a man of gentle spirit and understanding.  So why not be wise and consider your words before you post anything on Facebook? You will regret what came out of your lips, sooner or later. Review your words before they're posted! Remember, that once words are spoken or posted, you can never take them back. We must hold our tongue!

  • Pride and Disgrace:
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).

Pride and disgrace are present here.  Some think that their opinions deserve everyone’s ears and that they can foolishly speak on any issue without a second thought on social media such as Facebook.  The arrogant man makes costly mistakes that bring him shame. His pride distorts his ability to think wisely. But a humble and prudent man can clearly see right and wrong, truth and error, wisdom and folly.

  • Contempt:
“Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent” (Proverbs 11:12).

Sadly some lack sense and belittle others on social media. Who shows understanding? The silent one. So simple, yet so difficult!   The way one talks about others reveals his character and heart.  Many fall into sin quickly with their words when they despise those around them.  They cannot hold their peace from critical and negative criticism, judgment, remarks, opinions, and comments about others.  A wise and righteous man is moved by compassion, mercy, and kindness, along with prayer toward his neighbor even when he is mistreated. He does not despise or scorn his neighbor.   God's counsel warns us against backbiting or insulting our neighbor.  He who is wise and righteous does not belittle others.  He restrains the sneering words that only fools (wicked men) are hasty to utter.

Nothing can justify contempt of one toward another. Period!


  • Rash Words:
“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18).  

The keyword here is rash: thoughtless, unconsidered. How often do we fire off a post or make comments on Facebook without thinking? And when we do, it’s intentional, ignoring a much better alternative, godly behavior. Our speech can cause trouble, pain, or healing to others. The wise have learned to rule their tongue to be a blessing to others.

So when you're on Facebook, do others bleed or grow when you end a conversation? Do others love interacting with you because it is pleasant and profitable? Or do they avoid you because of how you make them feel? Do you leave them bleeding? Do you encourage and help them? Or are you a stumbling block? Remember that a man’s words reveal his heart (Pr. 10:20; Matt. 12:34-37). The wise avoid the swords of others (Pr. 9:7-8; 16:27; 21:19; 23:9).


  • Prudence:
“A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims folly” (Proverbs 12:23).

Do you know that the more we post on Facebook, and the faster we post, the less prudent we become? It reveals a lack of knowledge or wisdom; thus, we say what we ought not. It would be wiser to hold back. A wise man keeps his mouth shut, even when he knows more than anyone around him. A fool cannot keep his mouth shut, even when he basically knows nothing, for his heart demands that he keep spewing foolishness. The tongue, the bodily member by which one speaks, is a great source of evil and trouble. Our words can hurt and harm others. A prudent man is wise, for he knows when and how to be careful or cautious with his words, especially when he’s posting. Although he has understanding and wisdom, he does not easily share it, for he keeps humility (Pr. 29:11).

  • Self-Control:
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly” (Proverbs 14:29).

How many times are people tempted to respond to a post on Facebook right away (especially when they're angry) when they shouldn't? It would be better to sleep on it and consider our words with more care before we respond to a post or comment. A wise man gets his spirit under control and rules it.

  • Harsh Words:
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

Some would rather respond to a post right away when they're angry rather than waiting until they're calm, and their mind is clearer so that they can respond with a soft answer. Indeed, it takes two to fight. But when either party shows kindness, he can stop the fighting. Peacemakers don't use provocative and offensive words when angry. The wise man ends peaceably any matter that causes anger by responding gently and kindly rather than with angry words in defense (Pr. 12:16; 15:18; 29:22). He crushes his pride so that he may end peaceably (Pr. 13:10; 21:24; 28:25). So, why not apply this rule to all our posts on social media? Don't let your pride win over wisdom!

 He who is wise and discreet is slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression (Pr. 19:11).  Why not measure yourself by this rule of self-discipline and peacemaking?  Do you get irritated by others’ provocation? Must you respond to everything that is said about you? Do you have to get the last word always? Are you prone to self-justification rather than self-deprecation?  Remember that soft words are your most powerful weapon against any offense (Pr. 25:15). Learn this wise habit!


  • Biting and Excoriating:
“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11).

Do you know what’s not glory? The biting and excoriating of a Facebook post or comment. Swallow your anger! It tastes bitter, but it is good medicine. Godly discretion chooses to delay and postpone getting angry when someone offends us.

The glorious person uses discretion from God's wisdom.  He defers and ignores any transgression committed against him.  He turns the other cheek, overlooks provocation, and chooses mercy over wrath. Discretion is the ability to know the right action for any occasion. Deferring is putting off, delaying, or postponing something. Godly discretion chooses to delay and postpone getting angry when someone offends us. It is the mark of a wise man, a gracious and gentle spirit. It is also the mark of Christian maturity, for only fools quickly strike back.  Those who have no discretion often use hostility, hurt others, get indignant, bite back, and plot revenge against those who offend them. They have no discretion since their feelings rule their hearts. They do not know deferment, for they react first, then think about it later. This is the mark of a proud and unyielding spirit (Pr. 16:28; 28:25).  It is contrary to wisdom and grace.

  • Anger:
“Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man” (Proverbs 22:24).

It’s almost as if Solomon was thinking of Facebook and other social media! Angry people are fools full of wrath. Wise people avoid them at all costs.  It is not godly, noble, or manly, no matter how hard they try to justify their anger.  They are aware of the risk of learning their wrong, hateful ways, for they will lead them to their souls' destruction (Pr. 22:25; 13:20).  To have a peaceful life, one must avoid them, for they will bring unceasing conflict (Pr. 15:18; 19:19; 29:22).


  • Becoming a Fool:
“Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words” (Proverbs 23:9).
“Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself” (Proverbs 26:4).

Keep in mind that arguing with a fool on any Facebook post or comment makes you one too! Does that make you wonder if it's wise to post anything at all?  Many who do are surprised at the responses they receive. You cannot win with words around a fool, for he will not listen or change (Pr. 27:22).  When one engages in a debate on any post (with a fool), he becomes a fool himself (Pr. 26:4). His foolish and unlearned questions will only cause fights (II Tim. 2:23). If you give him the Truth, he will despise it and trample it under his feet  (Matt. 7:6). He will dishonor, insult, and hate us when we correct him. On the other hand, a wise person will love us for correcting him with the Truth (Pr. 9:7-8; Matt 7:6).    

  • Mind Your Own Business!
“Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears” (Proverbs 26:1). 

Think of that dog as a pit bull, with foam coming out of its mouth, with its leash dragging behind. That’s right; mind your own business on Facebook!! Even a friendly dog will bite when one grabs and pulls its ears. So it is with the busybody who gets involved in the strife of others on social media. Both parties will soon bite him! God's wisdom teaches us to avoid the conflict of others.


  • Quarreling:
“For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases” (Proverbs 26:20)

The wood here is a house fire, already raging, which needs to be put out rather than pouring more gasoline on it. When we make a post or comment to spread innuendos, rumors, and negative information to harm another, disputes, fights, and bad blood start quickly. Fire goes out as soon as there is nothing more to burn. Conflicts end as soon as there is no more irritation made (no more fuel added to the fire).

We have two obligations:  never to bear tales about others and to stop those who do it aggressively.  You see, talebearing (gossip, whispering, tattling, blabbing) is a forgotten sin. It is neither understood nor condemned today. Talebearing is spreading injurious or malicious reports about another person. A talebearer is one who officiously spreads reports of private matters to gratify malice or idle curiosity (Pr. 20:19). It is commonly called gossip and slander.  The Bible synonyms are backbiting, tattling, and whispering, which are sins condemned by God (Pr. 16:28; 25:23; Rom. 1:29-30; II Cor. 12:20; I Tim. 5:13).


  • Raging and Laughing:
“If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet” (Proverbs 29:9).  
That is, getting into an argument with a social media fool who enjoys it. It will lead you to no peace or satisfaction. Indisputably, fools are hopeless! No matter how much one tries to help them understand wisdom and understanding, they still cannot and will not learn. A fool trusts his own heart and rejects instruction (Pr. 28:26; 15:5). He hates wisdom and loves folly, though he does not admit it. He thinks, speaks, and acts contrary to wisdom and godly conduct.


  • Discretion:
“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back” (Proverbs 29:11).

Just because we can post anything on Facebook or any other social, it doesn’t mean we must. Be wise and ask, “why?” then be sure you have a really good answer before you post. Wisdom is to hold back speech. There is a time to hold back speech, a time to talk, and say it all (Eccl. 3:7). The wise know what to do before speaking and when to speak, but the fool spill everything without preparation, examination, and thought. But knowing when to speak and when to keep silent requires discretion and prudence, two branches of wisdom the fool has never considered.

Indeed, fools talk a lot! They cannot keep their mouths shut.  They give in to their desires to let everything rush out of their mouths (any little thought, no matter how frivolous, no matter how unstudied, no matter how inappropriate).   A wise person speaks with caution.  He does not speak hastily, without examination, or offers his opinions as truth.  He rules his mouth to choose wise words and wait for the right timing.  A talker is a fool, for he talks arrogantly, hastily, and loudly.  He confirms his folly.  A fool loves the sound of his own voice, and he thinks others should love it also. He thinks he has wisdom to share, and he believes others are blessed to hear him. So he gets angry when he is eventually isolated due to his ignorant and obnoxious speech and thinking.


II.  WHAT WOULD JESUS THINK ABOUT WHAT WE POST ON FACEBOOK?

If Facebook is taking time away from God and a life that represents a Christlike existence, then maybe you should consider leaving the site.  Ask yourself:

Do you think Jesus would have used Facebook?  If so, would He have spent time on the site 24/7, every day, and every second?  If Jesus were on Facebook and sent you a friend request, would you have to stop and think before you accepted Him as a friend?  Would you feel the need to remove all your immodest pictures and those taken in inappropriate places?  Would you go back to recheck your postings to make sure you didn't say anything vulgar, crude, or improper?  Would you run an inventory of your favorite movies and music and perhaps delete a bunch of them before you let Jesus on your site?  What about all the games you play?  Quizzes you take?  Copy and paste shares?

If the answer is YES to any of those questions, why not remove them now and show Christ in you?!  The truth is the Lord is watching everything we do or say, including our Facebook pages or walls!  
“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good”  (Prov. 15:3).  

Moreover, if Jesus were on Facebook, He would not have used it to boast, be arrogant, or to glorify Himself.  Spending time on social media to glorify yourself is a massive waste of time! Take heed!

Though God is watching us on Facebook, others are watching us as well.  Does it matter to you?  It should matter!  Why?  Because what others see on your Facebook site affects what they think about you, the church, our faith, the Gospel, and God's kingdom of righteousness.

What if others (who perhaps are not Christians) know I am a Christian but see me posting pictures of me at a nightclub dancing and drinking alcohol?  At the beach wearing immodest and indecent clothes?  What if I post the latest lyrics of a Lady Gaga song and others like hers?  Or perhaps I am running someone down with ugly insults?

I could list a dozen examples where we may be stumbling blocks to others.  But the question is: What effect is it going to have on those who are still walking in darkness when they look at my site?  They might think you're just a complete hypocrite!  Posting all these things for the world does not honor and glorify God and His church.  It hurts Christ's cause and His church!  Therefore, make an effort to root these things out of your life and heart and shine your light amid so much darkness (Mt. 5:8; Phil. 4:8; 2 Tim. 2:22).  Think about it!


CONCLUSION:

The Bible tells us that a wise person speaks little and guards his tongue.  Yet, people talk too much on Facebook.  Our words are many rather than few.  Our words express what's inside our hearts.  Our thoughts become words which then become good or evil.  We must not speak foolishly.  It is foolish to express whatever thought that may come to mind. We must think before we speak.  Words bring death and destruction! Words injure the conscience of others and ours as well.  They cause deep sorrow and wound others with injuries that are beyond repair. 

Facebook is, at times, the perfect environment for uncontrolled tongues (James 3:5).  All kinds of hurtful words that disrupt, divide and destroy, spew out of our Facebook pages or walls (Proverbs 12:18). Guarding our tongue is hard to do on Facebook or other social media.  Guarding what one says and remaining silent is very hard to do when everyone else is being so noisy.   Some forget to acknowledge that one moment of carelessness can do irreparable harm.  We sometimes see “meltdowns” on newsfeeds that make us wonder if they have lost their mind.  It is the perfect place for flashes of anger, pity parties, vulgarity, and constant rants.  Many don't seem to acknowledge that such moments of unbridled emotion can drastically tarnish one's reputation forever.

“The pen is mightier than the sword.” 

Words are powerful tools for construction or destruction in the lives of others. They can be used for great good or great evil, blessing, or cruelty. You may know the little ditty:


"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me." 

It is total nonsense. When you were most deeply hurt, was it not words that caused the lasting damage? Perverse words break the spirit and crush the soul. Carelessness with words is the mark of a fool. Whether Facebook status updates or comments, tweets, blog posts, and their comments, chat room chatter, instant messaging or texting, speech or song, the godly man sets out to use words to do good, to promote health instead of destruction.  

Facebook can lead us to mindless character and worse (Prov. 13:3; 18:21).  Remember that words are powerful.  They can either harm or help. There are consequences to how we use our tongues.  For example, if you ridicule someone, you have already become arrogant and unloving.  If you use profanity when posting and join in coarse joking, you have already lowered yourself in the sewer of vulgarity (Eph. 4:29, 5:3-4).  If you post rumor, malicious gossip, and tale-bearing, you have already left the land of brotherly love and have crossed over the land of bitterness and malice (Eph. 4:31-32). Let this sink deeply into your hearts!

Let us not conform to the world but be a light that shines in so much darkness.  Let us not use our words to tear others down but rather to build them up. Why not pray before posting or making comments?
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).  

Let others see the light of Christ based on what you post (Matt. 5:16).  Social networks can be a great tool to show others the hope we have in Christ.  We can encourage and challenge others to believe in Christ and follow Him.  But we must behave worthy of our calling in social media.

As God's children in His kingdom, we must discern between good and evil and encourage others to come to Christ. Bible principles of righteousness are what ought to govern our use of Facebook and other similar social media. Our social media interactions must encourage others to come to God's kingdom. Facebook is a dangerous social tool if one does not use wisdom, discernment, and self-control! The way we conduct ourselves on Facebook or any other social media may glorify God or may hurt the cause of Christ. We should follow the example of the tribe of Issachar, who had “men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chron. 12:32). 

Whatever you do on Facebook, remember the impact that it has on you, the church, and our Lord. Choose to use social media to the glory of God. Remember what is at stake (Mk. 9:43-50), and that heaven and hell hang in some measure upon the choices you make while floating in the electronic ether. If your online engagement, Facebook is dragging your soul down to hell, then it would be more profitable for you to cut the cables and cast away the wi-fi than to be up-to-date with all the latest trends and technology even as you descend into the pit and lose your soul.

Though technology is ever-changing, God's Word remains the same! I'm thankful to God for that!  Yes, I want to take full advantage of the internet and all this new technology with all its advancements and upgrades, but praise be to God that I don't have to deal with such regarding His inspired Word!  It doesn't matter to me since I know that today's new ideas aren't really that new (Ecc. 1:9) and that soon they are replaced by something else. God's Word will always be there!

May we always remember that we, as Christians, represent our King Jesus and His church. May we all speak wisely, reflecting the priorities and character of our Lord and His kingdom. May we always consider the words we speak in person and online. May we deny self and remain silent about matters that are likely to hurt our influence or cause an unnecessary division between us and those who desperately need the Gospel.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”  
1 Peter 2:9-12  


Luci

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