Somewhere in the last couple of decades this thing we call ‘social media’ crept into our homes, onto our screens, and took its place in our calendars, our conversations, and our consciences. Indeed, for most of us, social media is a regular part of our day-to-day lives. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Nor is it automatically a good thing. But because social media has taken such a dominant position in our lives and in our world, we would do well to think intentionally about how we should engage with it. There are obvious benefits—connection and creativity, information and inspiration—but there are also many potential pitfalls.
In the article, A Social Media Heart Check, Kim Cash Tate proposes 4 questions that should guide the way we engage with social media. Let me offer them to you.
- Am I Walking by the Spirit?
In Galatians 5:22–23 we’re told the fruit of the Spirit is “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”. The fruit of social media, however, is often (though not always, of course) discord, antagonism, meanness, harshness, and impulsiveness. The problem is not just social media, though; it’s our flesh (sinful desires). Social media provides the platform for some of our worst sinful tendencies to play out.
Kim Cash Tate says, “Walking by the flesh may be an accepted norm on social media, but it’s not possible to please God in the flesh (Romans 8:8). As believers, we’re called to… walk by the Spirit, perhaps especially on social media, given its reach and impact. We should ask ourselves if our posts are gracious and edifying. Am I slow to speak? Are love and kindness reflected? Am I blessing or cursing those I deem enemies? Even when our posts are grounded in truth, our heart attitude in sharing that truth is key. Is it about me and my need to be right? Is the Lord being glorified?”
- Am I Bragging?
There are things we say and share on social media that we would never say or share in face-to-face interaction. Whether it’s an award we’ve won, the house we own, or a good deed we’ve done, normally we’d be reluctant to promote it (or ourselves) in conversation. Why, then, do we feel the need to do so on social media? Even if it’s subtle, and even though it’s common, social media stokes our desire to be known, to be recognised, and to be praised.
Cash Tate says, “It’s wise to step back and ask: Why am I posting this? Why did I even take a picture of this? To make myself look good? To show how many showed up for my event? To let my friends and followers know I’m “somebody”? It’s a heart posture we need to resist steadfastly. As the Son of God and Saviour of the world, only Jesus had cause to exalt himself. Yet he humbled himself instead, taking on human flesh and dying on the cross.”
- Am I Battling Envy & Discontentment?
What we see of others on social media is only a slice of life. But make no mistake, it’s usually the best slice. And as we scroll through the stream of highlights we’re tempted to compare.
Cash Tate says, “Whatever we are lacking or perceive to be lacking, we will likely scroll past someone prospering in that very area. And if we find ourselves battling discontent or envy as a result, it’s time to close the app.” She goes on, “If we can keep a healthy perspective and celebrate with those on our timeline, social media can be fun. But if it’s tempting us toward heart attitudes that are sinful, we glorify the Lord by seeking him about those issues — after we log off.”
- Is This the Best Use of My Time?
This is really the heart of the issue. As we discovered last Sunday, God calls us to make best use of our time (Eph. 5:16–17). Which is why, as believers, we must constantly ask ourselves: Is my engagement with social media the best use of my time?
Cash Tate says, “We each have responsibilities and obligations, whether at home, in ministry, school, or the workplace—many of us with some combination of these. And as believers, we ought to prioritize time in the word and in prayer. Social media can encroach upon the “more needful” things, including the importance of simply being present with family and friends. We need to remain sensitive to the Spirit’s leading as to how much time to spend on social media, and even whether it’s time to deactivate.”
These are four good questions that will help us to use social media in a way that brings glory to God.