I was fixated on the phone in my hand and the community it promised, so much so that I ignored the people sitting beside me — my family and friends. Have you been there before? I spent too much time on social media, so I went “off the grid” for three months — no Instagram or Facebook.
I prayed that God would refine me, challenge me, and show me how to better use my time on social medial — if at all. Spoiler alert: I’m back online now, and I still struggle to use my time well.
Let’s take a look at how we use social media — the bad and the good. But first, a disclaimer: I don’t want to encourage judgment, legalism, or lists of dos and don’ts. You don’t necessarily need to delete your social media accounts. Twitter isn’t inherently sinful. Rather, the way we use these sites and apps can be sinful.
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). Through Christ, God teaches us how to live for His glory. He gives us discernment regarding how or whether to use social media. So don’t shut off your phone just yet. Rather, I hope that by God’s grace, we can encourage each other to use social media well.
Our Hearts Are Inclined Toward Evil Continually
Before we can learn how to use social media for good, we need to understand the risks. In my own life, I’ve found that I use social media as a tool to create idols more often than I use it as a tool to worship my God.
Here are the three primary sin issues I encounter when I’m using social media poorly:
- My eyes are set on the things of this world, but God calls us to fix our eyes on Christ.
- “Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” – Colossians 3:2-3
- I waste time, but God calls us to redeem the time.
- “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:16
- My relationships suffer — both online and in person — but God calls us to love one another.
- “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35
The fact that we struggle with these sins shouldn’t come as a surprise to us — by nature we’re sinners. There is a verse in Genesis that is still true of mankind today. It says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
We struggle to use social media well because we prize what we’re consuming on the Internet more than we treasure Jesus. We sacrifice genuine fellowship in exchange for shallow online interactions. We boast. We envy our brothers and sisters rather than join them to celebrate God’s grace in their lives.
It boils down to this — apart from Christ, there is nothing good in us. The intentions of our hearts are only evil continually. But if we have new life in Christ, He is continually changing our intentions.
Do All to the Glory of God
Christ is always at work changing the intentions of our hearts so that we can worship Him. He enables us to do all things for His glory, “… for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). This includes the way we participate in communities online.
Before we post or view something online, I pray that God would cause us to pause, consider our intentions, and examine the value of the content we’re sharing or reading:
- Is it true?
- Is it helpful?
- Will it bring joy/grace to those who see it?
- Am I boasting?
- Will it encourage my brothers and sisters?
Some of these questions are subjective — we shouldn’t make this about using a list of dos and don’ts. Rather, we must hate our sin and love Him. Living under the gospel of God’s grace should dictate our lives, including our actions online.
May God’s grace abound in our lives as we fight to use social media well. Let’s make it our aim to:
- Do all to the glory of God
- “‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor … So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:23-24, 31
- Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks
- “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
Here are a few ideas for posting in a God-honoring way. This list isn’t all-inclusive — it’s just a start, and I’d love if you’d add to it.
- Sharing His word and studying it together
- Connecting with other people in fellowship
- Being an advocate for justice by bringing attention to important causes in the Church and around the world
- Sharing something that brought you joy or encouragement
We can ask God to give us discernment in these matters. He is faithful to lead us in a way that honors and reflects His glory and His character. Before we compose another tweet or post another photo on Instagram, let’s pray this:
Father, I pray that you would enable me to use social media tools as you would have me use them — for your glory. If not, Lord, then give me discernment, help me to stop using these tools, and keep me from sinning against you. God, I ask that you would preserve genuine fellowship in our online communities, and cause me to encourage my friends and family in Christ. Put my mouth out of taste for any temporary pleasures of this world. Rather, help me to treasure Christ for eternity.
How do you check yourself with regards to social media? Do you have any tips for how we, as a community of believers, might be better stewards of what we see and share online? If you have any ideas, we’d love for you to share them in the comments section below.
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