MAYHILL, NM (BP) – Social media can be an awesome tool, but it can also be a terrible temptation. It's a mixed bag that gives people a platform to say whatever they want -- the good, the bad, and the ugly -- whenever they want, with little to no consequence.
I've made several friends on social media and have been encouraged by thousands of tweets and Facebook posts. There have been days, however, when I've been ready to delete every last one of my social media accounts.
But I've determined every second God gives me is an opportunity to "make the most of the time" (Ephesians 5:6). For this reason, I block the trolls, mute the troublemakers and am intentional and particular with what I decide to post.
Another reason I do this is because of what Jesus says in Matthew 12:36: "I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak." Social media can be a breeding ground for careless words, which is why wisdom and caution are necessary.
While I'm not always successful, before sending on an online message, I try to ask myself:
• Is this true or false?
• Does it build up or tear down?
• Does it amplify or diminish Christ's Gospel?
These questions help me accomplish three things in an effort to post to the glory of God:
1. Speak the truth
"Lying lips are detestable to the Lord, but faithful people are his delight," (Proverbs 12:22).
I might have tens of thousands of friends and followers on social media, but the audience that really matters consists of three persons in one: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
It's out of the new nature I received from Christ I aim to speak the truth in love to those in my circle of influence (Colossians 3:9-10; Ephesians 4:15).
These verses also inform how I process and respond to the news. When breaking news occurs, I try to wait at least 72 hours before giving commentary, as more facts often come to light after the story breaks.
May we be known as a people who value honesty and likewise share the truth in love.
2. Share to edify, encourage and embolden
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing" (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
I'm a pastor of a normative size church in the middle of absolutely nowhere. The people I have the privilege of serving and leading are gifts from the Lord.
But like all pastors, there are days when the rise and grind of ministry gets me down. Since most of my online friends and followers are pastors who are in the same boat, the absolute last thing I want to do is add to their headaches and heartaches.
There's a time for everything, and I've found the time I spend on social media should be primarily dedicated to cheering on my brothers and sisters in Christ. Do I agree with all of my social media contacts on everything they post? Of course not.
I'll never be in lockstep on tertiary issues with every pastor I follow on social media, but if we agree on the main things and aim to advance the Kingdom of God, I'll cheer them on with everything in me.
We church leaders are fully aware we have more than enough critics. We could use a cheerleader or two to build us up rather than tear us down.
So before your craft your next post, ask yourself, "Is this loving? Will it encourage my brother or sister?" If so, fire away. If not, holster that message.
3. Spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ
"This is why you are also to be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect" (Matthew 24:44).
I'm going to assume most readers know what the Great Commission says. I'm also going to assume you agree with what the Bible says about eternity.
Accordingly, I'm going to assume you haven't the slightest clue when you'll post your last tweet or breathe your last breath. For all any of us know, today could be our last day on this present earth. And none of us knows the day and time when Christ will return.
In light of these truths from Scripture, are you posting with the Great Day in mind? Are your posts guiding people to salvation or away from it?
The world is watching, and whether you have 50 online followers or 40,000, each post you launch into social media is either a flare of life or a missile of death.
Our posts are either guiding people to an eternity in heaven or everlasting torment in hell. That should be enough to give us pause before we click "send."
Be careful what you post knowing heaven and hell are real, eternity is a long time and every second is an opportunity to make the most of the time. Use your social media to speak the truth, encourage others and spread the good news.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matt Henslee (@mhenslee) is managing editor of LifeWay Pastors, coauthor of the book "Replanting Rural Churches" and pastor of Mayhill Baptist Church in Mayhill, N.M. He is married to Rebecca, and they have four daughters.