By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
I’m sure you’ve heard the concept: ‘a blessing and a curse.’ Something can start out as a blessing and eventually risk becoming a curse. Social media, for example, falls in that category.
When social media was created, it was used primarily as a means of connection. Over the years, it has gone beyond connection (a blessing) and has become a place of contention, confusion, and conflict (a curse).
It’s in these places of disagreement and discord that Satan thrives.
He loves confusion and chaos, and if you are not careful as a Christian you might fall right into the trap. The Bible says we should not be ignorant of the enemy’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11).
However, I have good news for you today. I want to show you some of these devices, and more importantly, show you how to sidestep Satan’s tricks on social media.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Eugene Keebler
Trick #1: The Need to “Express Yourself” (Get This off My Chest)
Have you ever seen a social media post that begins with any of these phrases?
“I was just thinking about this and I had to get this out...”
“I have seen this taking place and I feel like I have to say something...”
“I can’t take it anymore this is driving me crazy...”
“I am so tired of seeing people do this...”
So many times I’ve seen people jump on social media because they just “have to say something.” Sometimes people are expressing things that are fun and happy but far too many are responding or reacting to something that is negative or that is happening in our society.
The first question that jumps into my mind is why? Why is it that the moment something happens, the first thing we do is grab our phones and hit record? Social media makes it very accommodating for you to do this. In fact, my wife pointed this out to me, and I will use Facebook as an example.
Before you post, the question Facebook asks is “what’s on your mind?” It's so easy to either start talking or start writing something about how you feel in the moment. Walking around with social media hotspots (aka cellphones) in our pockets doesn’t help either. If this is handled incorrectly (many times it is) this falls right into Satan’s hand.
The quick, emotional response—especially if it’s an angry or negative one—is often wrong. It ends up causing harm and can do great damage. How many times have you seen people have to walk back or explain something they said because they reacted quickly and emotionally? Nevertheless, there is a solution.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. – James 1:19
I remember Herm Edwards (football coach and former ESPN commentator) used to say these words, “Don’t hit send.” This is exactly what James is saying. If you feel that you are going to respond emotionally in a situation (I’m referring to negative emotions) follow the advice of James. Stop. Think. Let me add one more, pray.
If this thing gets you so riled up that you can’t take it anymore, then before you tell the world about it, why not tell your Heavenly Father about it? This may come as a surprise, but the truth is, most of the people you are talking to on social media don’t really care what you think. But God does. Notice 1 Peter 5:7:
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
The next time the urge hits you to tell somebody something, tell God. After telling him and “expressing yourself,” chances are you will no longer feel the need to hit post, share, or send.
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Trick #2: The Need to Be Seen (Glitz and Glam)
Many people will “go live” on social media and share the things they’re doing. Sometimes they are positive, uplifting things such as helping the community, worshipping, and other good things.
The danger and the deception here is the subtle nature of pride (or as my good friend Melvin calls it, the look-at-me syndrome). Many times, social media is used to craft an image or perception of who you are—or at least that’s the conclusion people will come to.
If you’re not careful, you can become more concerned about your social media persona (what people see) instead of who you are when the camera stops (what God sees). This is another trap of Satan: to focus on the you that everyone sees and not the you that really exists.
Remember God’s words to Samuel regarding Saul:
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7
I’m not saying don’t go live. I’m not saying don’t show the world the good things you may be doing. I am saying: be careful and pay close attention to what’s in your heart, that’s where the deception takes place.
Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding. – Matthew 6:1 (MSG)
Pride is a subtle, sneaky, creepy little monster that can creep into your heart (I am speaking from personal experience). Be on alert and guard your heart. At the end of the day, it’s not about the likes and applause of the world. What matters most is the likes and applause of God.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Sam Thomas
Trick #3: The Need to Be Political (the Ghastly and the Gullible)
Many people get on social media and share their political points of view. Some people do it with intention of being divisive (the ghastly). Some do it without realizing they are being divisive (the gullible). The problem is they both have the same effect. I am all for people having a political point of view, there is nothing wrong with that. The problem is when you share it in a social media setting.
Let’s say you threw a party and invited some friends over. Let’s say one of your friends showed up wearing apparel that supports the political party opposite of the one you support. They didn’t just wear the clothes, they brought flyers and started handing them out at the party.
How would you feel? Most would feel uncomfortable. Some might be disappointed and some would be downright angry. After doing this, what if this same person then proceeded to tell you or others at the party about Jesus. Chances are, you wouldn’t be able to receive what they have to say. This is exactly what happens on social media.
You must recognize politics are divisive. That is their nature. The moment you declare to the world the party you support, the people who support the other side will disagree. And these disagreements can get downright nasty. Satan loves this.
Unfortunately, I think some Christians want these types of disagreements and arguments. I know for certain this is exactly what Satan wants. Here is something to remember. You can’t fight political wars on social media and then try to come back and talk about the love of Jesus. That is like oil and water.
If you are going to wave a flag and a banner let it be the banner of the cross. Let people know you by your identity with Christ and not by your identity with your political affiliation.
The Bible warns (to the ghastly):
But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned. – Titus 3-9-11
The Bible also encourages (to the gullible)
And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. – 1 Corinthians 2:1-2
It’s ok to be political. Just keep it off social media. And in most cases, it’s probably best to keep it to yourself. Raise the banner of Jesus high—because after all, he is the hope for our world.
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Trick #4: Forgetting Who Your Neighbor Is (The Golden Rule)
One of the great challenges of social media is that it allows people to say things in an online format or forum that they would never say to a person face-to-face. What was meant to connect people has often had the opposite effect of dehumanizing people.
How many times have you seen name-calling, fighting back and forth, cursing at each other (and I am talking about the Christians here) in social media feeds? Clearly, this space can cause you to forget that there is a real person on the other end of those attacks.
That person is your neighbor. The last time I checked Jesus said after loving God, loving your neighbor as yourself was the second most important command. I honestly believe that Satan laughs and jumps for joy when he sees those who profess Christ “warring and quarreling” with each other.
Let’s not seek to make Satan happy, let’s make God happy.
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. – Matthew 7:12 (emphasis added)
Maybe the real answer to the challenge of social media is a lot simpler than we think. What if we spend less time on social media and more time being social. Social media can be a great tool but, guess what: the phone works. too.
Let’s try this. Instead of scrolling and sharing, or liking and texting, why not practice dialing and talking? I truly believe we will be far more gracious and much more loving the more we talk to each other. And when you do have that conversation, why not begin it or end it with prayer? Imagine the unity and power that would bring to the body of Christ. I know this is not what Satan wants, but oh how our Heavenly Father would be pleased. I will end with a prayer of Jesus:
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. – John 17:20-21
This is what matters most.
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