Saturday, April 20, 2019

Exercising Caution with Social Media

I've recently been given a gift subscription to Ligonier Ministries' "Tabletalk Magazine." I came across a brief article by Matt Smethurst, an elder at Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, KY that provides wisdom as we wander through the fields of social media. The article is titled, "Honoring One Another Online." (Feb. 2019 issue, pages 17-18). Here is an excerpt:

     "Jesus' words in Matthew 7:12--'Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them'--are so familiar that they're easily forgotten. But the Golden Rule is in effect each time we pull out our phones. 
     One of today's most insidious temptations--amplified by social media--is to slander and to shame. Why assume the best? we quietly think. Why not pile on? It's not like they know me. Plus, there are retweets to be had.
    The word slanderer appears thirty-four times in the Bible as a designation for the devil. He is the great accuser. Mirroring his methods in social media is not unfortunate. It's not mistaken. It is Satanic.
    Slander is a form of vandalism, too. It defaces God's most valuable property on earth--human beings, divine works of art who bear His image. No wonder James says reckless words arise from hell (James 3:6). No wonder he anchors the whole discussion in the imago Dei (vv. 8-9).
    Crafted in God's image, every person possesses divinely granted dignity and worth--and should be treated as such. This can be easy to forget when scrolling through a comment section or staring at a blurry head shot. But pixels can never shrink our personhood. Our online interactions must reflect this."

Technology is a wonderful blessing from God. The internet is a tool that can be of great use in advancing the Gospel, but there are many dangers. Social media should be of particular concern. It can foster pride as we desire others to read what we have to say. It encourages gossip as we share information that is best kept private. And social media can quickly become an obsession, where we become glued to our phones, always looking for the next post. People become "friends" with people they hardly know and refuse to de-friend those of whom they should not associate. May God grant great discernment. If we choose to involve ourselves, we must exercise great caution. "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall" (1 Cor. 10:12).

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