We must be cautious not to dehumanize the other, as in doing so we inadvertently dehumanize ourselves as well. (Lev. 19:18, 34).
When the Bible is all about you, you become a tyrant; when it’s all about Him, you become a servant (Gen. 1:1 – Rev. 22:21).
“Therefore, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jewish or Greek people or to God’s community – just as I also try to please everyone in everything, not seeking my own benefit but the benefit of many, so that they may be saved” (I Cor. 10:31-33).
Recently I made a personal choice to wean myself from my primary social media platform for the summer. It was becoming increasingly difficult to not be adversely affected by the posts and comments in my newsfeed. Honestly, it was too much stimulation for my natural condition as a contrarian, non-conformist, sharp tongued reprobate. I was continually reminding myself, “that comment will not glorify your Savior.”
Disciples of Messiah.
The apostle Paul reminds disciples of Messiah that in all we do, whatever it may be, it must be done “to the glory of God.” That includes social media posts, comments, shared videos, and livestreams. In Matthew 12:36, Yeshua says, “But I tell you that on the Day of Judgment, men will give account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Directly, Yeshua is speaking to the unrepentant, who have not been cleansed in heart by faith (Matt. 12:33-35); but what of those who have been changed, cleansed, and redeemed? Are we now able to bring forth evil from a good treasury? Lord, help us.
Even the redeemed will give an account for words spoken, but not to condemnation (Ro. 8:1), a point that should give us great pause. What of keystrokes? They are still words, and they do come from an internal storehouse – one that should reflect the risen Savior.
Granted. There are reasons to be concerned, upset, angry, frustrated, and fearful. We cannot escape the current climate of social, political, racial, and health unrest. Yet, not everything that we type, or record, is constructive, or even helpful. We all have our opinions, and opinions can stimulate healthy dialog, but when our opinions override the message of the Gospel, people of messianic faith are in trouble.
Our opinions are based on our presuppositions. We interpret, usually, by the lens of those presuppositions, and that affects not only our eyes, but our ears as well. We have our political, social, cultural and religious opinions; but as people of messianic faith, our worldview needs to be aligned with the Word of God, and the Lord’s ethical norms. How do we respond to people with differing opinions? In the Gospels we find Yeshua flipping tables from time to time, or saying “woe unto,” and even “hypocrites!” Still, we find that this was not His usual demeanor. It wasn’t wrong, as Paul tells us, “Be angry, yet do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger, nor give the devil a foothold” (Eph. 4:26-27). We can be angry, apart from sin – this is a biblical permission. Yeshua was angry apart from sin. He was angry at the sin. Still, even with His anger at the actions of those receiving His rebuke, He did not allow that moment to affect His opinion of their humanity. Increasingly, we seem to be unable to disconnect actions, opinions, and differences from our opinion of the human other. The devil then has a foothold in our life.
Paul writes, which is especially meaningful in light of the contentious communications of today, “Let no harmful word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for building others up according to the need, so that it gives grace to those who hear it. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness and rage and anger and quarreling and slander, along with all malice. Instead, be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other just as God in Messiah also forgave you” (Eph. 4:29-32).
Let no harmful word come from your mouth, or your keyboard. We can share our opinion in a non-combative way, desiring to inform, or learn, rather than insult. Everyone’s need in the moment is different. So how can the answer to that immediate need bring them to the answer of every need, Messiah? Get rid of rage, bitterness, anger, quarreling and slander – get rid of, as these qualities are not renewed. Be kind. Compassionate. Forgive. Try to understand. Walk in the forgiveness gracefully supplied to you.
We are so easily ensnared by the schemes of the enemy, and all too often our mental disposition and inclination is to find those traps – and if I am honest, it is true for me as well. We need the mind of Messiah. We need His patience. We need His eternal worldview.
What do we do?
- Pause, and pray.
- Think before we speak or type.
- Consider the sources of information we are consuming, and by consuming, growing – into what?
- Not everything needs to be commented on or shared.
- Consider, not just someone else’s point of view, but why they have that point of view.
- Is what we speak or type for the glory of God?
- Will our response help draw people to Messiah?
- Will our speech or keystrokes cause dissension among the redeemed?
- Pause, and pray, yet again.
But we must say something!
It depends. As a faith teacher I have learned from years of experience that people do not like to be talked down to – they do not like to be made to feel ignorant. It takes time to develop the skills necessary to honor the position and experience of those you are attempting to reach, and not do so in a presumptuous or pompous way. This is a skill that is so desperately needed in the social media universe.
Yes, at times we must speak; but we must also remember that heaven is listening. We must keep in mind that “this call is being monitored for quality assurance.”
Would people know that you are a disciple of Yeshua if they only had access to your tweets, posts and comments? This causes me endless reflection.
It’s all too easy.
I am a recovering (as noted above): contrarian, non-conformist, sharp tongued reprobate. While I know that I am eternally recovered, it is the day to day living that is still in recovery – also called daily sanctification. I have a sharp tongue, and I know how to use it. That is the easy response. The easy way. The way that many people travel. I thank the Lord that I am on the narrow way, which means that my natural inclination is being squeezed out of me. I pray that He squeezes you as well.
What I am preposing is not a way of weakness, but of Messiah. Let our attitude be Messiah. Let our faith be Messiah. Let our life be a reflection of Messiah. We all need this grace. Finally, let us put on Messiah, and by His Spirit have wisdom for every circumstance.
Let all be done, for the glory of God.
Be well. Shalom.
*For the record, I own guns, knives, and will defend myself and others from aggression. This is not contrary to discipleship in Messiah. Messiah’s answer of turn the other cheek is social insult, not an answer to aggression, danger, or immediate threat. Still, this is not to be our normal operating procedure, or disposition.