Social media is a minefield of opinions, outrage, and shock journalism. How do Christians make sure their communication online—whether by Facebook, Twitter, or even over old-fashioned email—is Christlike? What steps should we take to promote loving, Christ-honoring communication (Eph. 4:15)? Here are three Scriptural principles that promote godly communication online.
1. Foster Humility (Ephesians 4:2)
Godly online communication must build from a foundation of humility. The photos we upload, the comments we make, and the status updates we post ought to contain a healthy dose of Christlike humility. The problem, of course, is that humility is unnatural. And I find that if I’m not fostering humility in the privacy of my own home, I easily fall into the pit of destructive pride in the public forum of the internet.
Because online culture is by nature self-aggrandizing, Christians should seek all the more to reflect the selfless love displayed by Christ. Believers need to be mindful of the internet’s self-promotional tendencies and consciously work to magnify the Savior who bought them.
2. Deal Honestly (Ephesians 4:25)
Whatever thoughts might spring from our keyboards, truth should reign. Before sharing that link to a news article destroying another’s credibility, you’d better make sure it’s factual. Christians who perpetuate sensational half-truths ultimately undercut their stand for truth. Refuse to spread gossip or slander the innocent, no matter how much you might disagree with their positions.
3. Reject Corruption (Ephesians 4:29)
Moral decay is everywhere online. If believers want to honor Christ digitally, they must be aware of this corruption and keep it from absorbing into our own communication patterns.
The Bible talks a lot about corrupt communication, here are three examples:
Tearing Others Down
Although tempting, it’s not the believer’s responsibility to “put people in their place.” Never mock. And always be mindful of the reader’s emotional response. We should carefully consider all of our written communication (even private emails). How will it sound to the reader? Tearing others down—especially those you do not know—is the opposite of Christlike love.
Even though perversion is natural for those who reject their Creator (see Romans 1), disciples of Christ must model pure communication in all its varied forms (1 Tim 4:12).
With the ascendancy of social media, people feel the need to comment on events, pop culture, other people, etc., without any measure of grace. By doing so, commentators place themselves in a position of judgment over others—often with little information about what has actually happened. Before commenting on an event, ask yourself these questions: Why you feel the need to weigh in on the latest scandal? Why do you feel it’s your responsibility to denounce people for their choices? Will your comment promote the unity of the brethren in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3)? Will it build up the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12)? Does it keep the cross of Christ in first place (1 Cor. 15:3)?
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col 4:5-6). When we speak online, we’re speaking to those who are on the outside. We have no idea who will end up reading our comments and how they’ll respond (context or no context). And even though we can’t prevent every misinterpretation, we should be making every effort to communicate effectively and lovingly toward our culture.
Special thanks to Marshall Fant IV for his contribution of this post. Marshall is the Associate Pastor at Harvest Baptist Church in Rock Hill, SC.