When I was in high school, my evenings were optimistically productive, full of binges on cereal, Pretty Little Liars, and hours scrolling through the latest social media fads of Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Before I knew it, I was sucked into a whirlwind of comparison, loathing, and coveting what others had.
While Social Media can help us connect with friends, share events, or catch up with family, there are an insurmountable amount of ways it causes more harm than good. Specifically, there are three ways that I believe God wants us to use social media for His glory rather than our deficiencies.
1) Social Media Causes More Harm When We Use It to Argue Others Than Love Them: Choose the Good: Choose to Love
I would be lying if I said that Christians never argued with others on social media, especially unbelievers. Unfortunately, in my twenty-four years of living, I have seen “good” Christians tear others apart for controversial, political, and conversational posts. My mind shutters at the comments that explode, “You’re going to Hell,” “Jesus won’t accept you.” Brothers and sisters in Christ, this should not be so if we are real followers of The Way.
The Lord tells us to rebuke and correct others, but not before the log is taken out of our eyes (Matthew 7:5). While pointing out your opinion is not always degrading or violent, when being right becomes more important than being kind, loving, and caring like Christ, we’ve caused more harm than good.
The next time a post rubs you the wrong way, remember to ask, “What would Jesus do?” Yes, Jesus turned tables in the Temple of those selling goods in a place of worship (Matthew 21:12); yes, He rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 23), but He also loved to an extent and measure.
Ephesians 4:15 tells us to speak the truth in love. Stand up for Jesus and what His Word says, but do it out of a place of concern for their salvation and not self-righteousness. Galatians 6:1 says it this way: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” With a spirit of gentleness, not wrath and rage, use social media to point others to Jesus in love.
2) Social Media Causes More Harm When We Compare Ourselves to Others Highlights Than Appreciate Our Differences: Choose the Good: Choose to Acknowledge We’re All God’s Unique Children
While I am tempted to think that this problem primarily applies to teenagers and young adults, I am startled by the number of adults I see comparing and coveting what others have after spending time on social media.
When we engage in likes, tweets, photos, highlights, and posts, it can become easy to let our thoughts wander, and our hearts become far from us. Yet, the tenth commandment is clear on this that we should not covet what others have and we don’t, but be grateful for that which God has individually provided.
Exodus 20:17 notes, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” And although you might be thinking, I don’t covet their wife; you probably do desire to look like them, have their clothes, enjoy the activity they participated in; the possibilities are endless.
Having an interest in what someone else is doing is not inherently wrong; that’s human nature to desire a newness of experiences, pleasures, and desires. However, when we long for those things more than we appreciate the here and now that God has given us, that’s when it becomes problematic. Instead of comparing yourself to another, remember to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Philippians 2:2-4 remarks, “then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Psalm 139:14 resounds this, in reminding each of us that we’re “fearfully and wonderfully made” in the image of Christ. Jesus didn’t create us with strength and dignity to possess others’ lives, but He did die to give us our own (Proverbs 31:25).
When we acknowledge that we are all God’s children, we become much more appreciative of what He has not only blessed others with but that which He’s richly bestowed upon us as well. God made you and I special in His image, and that’s something to rejoice about, not play the comparison game (Genesis 1:26-27).
3) Social Media Causes More Harm When We Waste Time in a Virtual World Rather Than Bringing The Kingdom of Heaven to The Here and Now: Choose The Good: Choose to Use Your Time Wisely
As someone who used to spend countless hours a day until her phone said “all caught up,” I know first-hand the time-sucking thief social media can rob us of if we aren’t careful.
In theory, social media can bring us closer to those that live far away. It can enable us with a connection to spread the Gospel, share Jesus Christ, and proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven is near, so the time to come to God is now. Yet, more often than not, we waste so much time scrolling, we forget to slow down and pay attention to the needs outside our windows or in our backyards.
Witnessing to those online using virtual platforms is an excellent use of technology developed over the ages. We can bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth by sharing encouraging Bible verses, hosting events, and inviting people to Church using pragmatic sources.
But let us not spend so much time on social media that we forget our purpose and, more importantly, forget those closest to us.
I’ve met many people who think missions are only if they travel across the seas, into the Promised Land, and ride through a desert by camel. Yet, the most significant tasks happen in our backyards, families, schools, and neighborhoods.
Enjoying social media properly for a set time is not wrong. It’s not a sin to like posts, comment on engagements, and say hello to friends. However, it’s not proper to waste countless hours comparing yourself, coveting what others have, and arguing and complaining because you feel like it. Using social media to procrastinate, for instance, will not help you to enrich the Kingdom of God.
God instructs us in Ephesians 5:15 to use our time wisely. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is,” and that is what I would recommend one applies to social media usage as well.
As individuals on a fallen planet, we have limited time, energy, and resources to do what Christ has called us to before His great return. While social media can be beneficial and enjoyable, always align your heart with Christ’s in its proper usage.