We use social media today as an avenue for discussion about anything and everything. Whether commenting in blog discussions and forums or posting and sharing information on Facebook, we take part in many public discussions.
As people who live to reflect God’s glory and testify to His truths, we often feel the need to voice opinions and cite quotes in response to the things we see on social networks. There are several passages in Scripture that teach us about how to participate in such discussion in a Godly manner.
1. Speak plainly
For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 2 Peter 2:18 -19
In 2 Peter 2:18 -19, we are reminded not to speak or listen to “empty, boastful words” that “promise freedom” but only lead to enslavement. The “words” that Peter references are in Greek, “phthéggomai” –generic and unintelligible.
When choosing words for social media, be concise, and be precise. Speak plainly, as in any casual conversation. Even if typing in solace, we must remember that our words are given over to other ordinary people. The goal is not to trap others in their thinking and speech, but to build them up rightly.
2. Reflect what you proclaim
Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. Ephesians 5:4-7
Empty words have no substance. They are the equivalent of handing someone a glass and telling them to drink without ever having filled the cup.
Ephesians 5:4-7 warns against this, citing that those who speak out of sinful character offer empty words that deceive others.
What we say matters as much as how we say it. A person who speaks about faith on the same social platform (or out of the same mouth) that they share obscenities or coarse jokes is being deceptive, offering up words that have no substance.
3. Point to Christ
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:2-6
Even with privacy settings in place on social networks, our conversations through such mediums tend to be open to a larger audience than we think about or intend. People who read our internet chatter may or may not know the Lord, and it is important that we are wise about how we speak in the presence of unbelievers.
Colossians 4:2-6 outlines the importance of praying, watchfully, as we choose our words. In everything we say, we are to be aware of open doors allowing us to “proclaim the mystery of Christ”. The passage highlights the necessity of always speaking in a way that is “full of grace,” allowing all of our answers to point to Christ.
As we find ourselves compelled to give response and to share thoughts through social media, we have to be conscious of what our words prove. If our opinions and comments complicate the truth, reveal our hypocrisy, or reject that Christ is central to all things, then we disservice those who listen. 1 Timothy 1:3-7 reminds us that our goal is to love from a pure heart, with sincere faith. Our words, especially those we share publicly, must align with this goal.