If it’s true that encouragement can change people, then it must also be true that discouragement can as well, only not for the good. Discouragement removes joy, causes doubt, questions abilities, and can make one want to give up. No doubt we’ve all experienced it. Certainly none of us want to be the cause of it.
Social media has increased our accountability. Consider the words of Jesus:
“I tell you, on the day of judgment people 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” (Matt. 12:36, 37).
Our words impact others and we are being held accountable for each and every one. With every posted status or comment, we must ask, “Will this bring sunshine or gloom to the reader?” Of course I’m not talking about prayer requests. It is blessing to be able to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15). I’m talking about ways we might negatively impact others. For instance:
- If the very first time we contact someone is to object, criticize, or point out a perceived wrong, it probably won’t have the kind of effect we hope it will. Relationship is necessary. Just because we are “friends” or followers on social media doesn’t mean we’ve built the kind of rapport essential to any kind of admonishment being well received.
- While venting may temporarily relieve our own frustration, it really doesn’t do much for the reader no matter how wittily we word it. Everyone experiences bad customer service, careless drivers on the road, messed up orders, or any number of life’s daily annoyances. What do we hope to gain by sharing it? Sympathy? The comments generally show that all we’re doing is reminding others how frustrating life can be. Surely we want to accomplish something better than that with our words. Complaining is just a bad habit (Phil. 2:14).
- We’re not going to agree with everything written or posted, but let’s choose our battles wisely. And let’s consider our influence as Christians with the tone we use. No matter how “right” we may be, sarcasm still sounds obnoxious.
- And finally, we really are not meant to be the Police of Social Media. Let’s not be Facebook trollers out to catch others doing bad. Let’s catch others doing good. While there may be times when we can and should offer a gentle word (in private) of admonishment, more often than not we can and should offer grace.
We know that we should think before we speak. Sometimes we need to be reminded to think before we post as well.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29).
Prayer for Today: Help me use my words, Lord, to draw others closer to You.