Besides being a full-time wife and mom, and a part-time ER nurse, our daughter Angela is also the women’s ministry director at her church. She has a heart for women and most importantly, for the Lord, as I think you’ll see in what she writes. Nanci and I couldn’t be prouder of her and her sister Karina.
If you haven’t yet seen it, I encourage you to start by reading her first post on 3 Things to Remember Before You Post on Social Media. Part two of Angie’s article encourages us to keep some things in mind when we’re browsing through posts from others on social media. —Randy Alcorn
Social media is hard. The range of emotions you can experience within just a few minutes of being online can be exhausting. And infuriating. Friends post pictures that make us smile and that make us cringe. Friends say things we agree with and disagree with. Things we disagree with so passionately that it could change the way we interact with them. So, how do we, as those who love Jesus, respond to what we’re seeing on our screens?
Just as we should be intentional about what we post, we should also be intentional about how we process what others are posting.
We've talked about how we should (or shouldn’t) post on social media but there’s another piece to it. Just as we should be intentional about what we post, we should also be intentional about how we process what others are posting. Obviously people with a different worldview post things that we don’t agree with, but I can’t begin to tell you how many conversations I’ve had with women about the negative effects a Christian friend’s post had on them. So, how do we, as believers in Christ, love each other well on social media? Yes, the writer of the post has a lot of responsibility, but remember, as you’re scrolling through the endless library of social media feeds, you, the reader, also have a responsibility. Here are three things to consider as you’re browsing.
As the reader, you need to choose to believe the best about people. Believe that the mom being honest about the difficulties of raising kids isn’t trying to hurt the women desperately trying to get pregnant or who have just miscarried. Believe that the engagement pictures aren’t meant to mock the single person or the woman longing for the lost romance in her marriage.
Remember that you don’t know the story behind every post. When the couple who you know is struggling financially posts a picture of their brand new car, realize it could have been a gift, not an unwise financial decision. The woman constantly posting about her “awesome husband” might be praising the one positive quality she can think of because she’s fighting to save her marriage. (Those two examples are actually true stories, and unfortunately I responded to both poorly. I was embarrassed, and profoundly humbled, by my quick judgments when I found out the truth.)
At times, we make judgments that swing to the opposite side. We think someone has it all together, and if we could just be like that person, life would be so much better! Please don't compare. Just because so and so is doing such and such doesn’t mean that you’re a failure if you’re not doing the same thing. God has a unique plan for each of us and has given us different gifts and abilities. We’re not all the same, nor should we be!
On the other end of the spectrum, just because someone is (or isn’t) doing something doesn’t mean you’re better than they are. Remember Jesus’ words about finding the speck in another’s eye before removing the log from your own (Luke 6:41–42)? Be careful not to judge others before you've examined yourself.
As easy as it sounds, this last one can actually be really difficult. Be happy for each other. When someone talks about buying a new house, or celebrating an anniversary in the tropics, or the fun girls’ weekend they just had, whether or not it’s your first reaction, make a conscious thought to be excited for them. Satan wants us to be focused on ourselves, but God wants us to love others more than ourselves. If a sister has a moment of delight, rejoice with her! Scripture tells us that just as we should bear each other’s burdens, we should share in each other’s joys (Romans 12:15).
It’s about loving others because of the love the Father gives to us.
Every word we read and every picture we see on social media can have an impact on us. How do we navigate through all of the thoughts and emotions that some posts bring out in us? It really all comes down to giving each other grace because of the grace that we have received in Christ. It’s about loving others because of the love the Father gives to us. It's about living out the gospel and putting Jesus on display in everything we do and every thought we allow to grow in our minds and hearts.
If you feel like you could be allowing social media to get in the way of your relationships with others, or especially with Jesus, I encourage you to take a break. Take a day or two (or more) and ask yourself if the time you spend online is encouraging your walk with the Lord, or discouraging it.
Most importantly? Pray. Pray with me that God would give us wisdom and discernment, and that our hearts would be aligned with His. Pray that we will represent Jesus well to our fellow believers in Christ, our families, our unbelieving friends...and even social media.