Checking My Heart Before I Tweet
God showed me that too often, my intention in posting on social media is to put people to shame.
While providing a wealth of opportunities and information, social media also offers a minefield of temptations.
Still, the lesson of how to be a Christlike social media user doesn’t seem to be one I’ve mastered, because God keeps convicting me in new ways.
Joseph and Mary
The latest conviction came yesterday as I read Matthew 1. Matthew 1:18-25 is one of the few pictures we get of Joseph, Mary’s betrothed and the earthly father of Jesus. When he found out Mary was pregnant before the consummation of their union, Joseph didn’t believe it was truly “from the Holy Spirit.” To him, evidence said Mary had committed adultery — a crime punishable by public stoning.
But Matthew tells us Joseph was “a just man and unwilling to put her to shame.” As various commentaries bring to light, the word for “just” in this context may be better understood as “tender” or “kind.” Because of this, Joseph “resolved to divorce her quietly.” He wasn’t interested in making a public fuss, embarrassing her, or vindicating himself. He just wanted to take care of it privately, and move on.
Thankfully, Joseph believed the angel who later came to him to tell him that Mary’s baby was indeed from the Holy Spirit, and the rest is history.
But his behavior before that provides a good example for us to follow on social media.
Putting Others to Shame
As I read, God made clear to me that too often, my intention in posting on social media (and specifically, tweeting) is to put people to shame. Sure, they may have done something wrong. At least, I think they have … just like Joseph believed Mary had sinned.
But this is not the kind thing for me to do.
That isn’t to say that public figures who sin publicly shouldn’t be held publicly accountable. And they are, by many strong voices in Christian media and ministry.
But when the latest public figure’s mistakes are suddenly trending on Twitter and I rush into the foray, what’s the intention of my heart? Is it to correct, educate, or offer forgiveness? Or is it to revel in their downfall? To assert my own moral superiority for all my followers to see? To put someone to shame?
Unfortunately, the answer to the latter set of questions tends to be “yes.”
In response to this conviction, I heard God asking me to step back. To think twice before I enter another Twitter hullabaloo. To pause before typing that exuberant comment over someone else’s failure. And to wait a few seconds to click “tweet” or “post,” evaluating the intentions of my heart, and weighing the potential effects of my words.
Next Time You Tweet, Check Your Heart
It’s easy to forget to be Christian on social media. It’s almost like social media (and for me, Twitter especially) doesn’t feel like real life. For instance, we might not personally know the majority of people who follow us on Twitter and read our words on a daily basis. In our minds, they’re little more then profile images.
But it is just as important to conduct ourselves in a Christian manner there as it is in person. Real people are watching us, especially at this moment in history, when believers, specifically evangelicals, are under the microscope.
So spend some time praying. Ask God to reveal ways you could improve your social media witness. He may tell you to back off and slow down, like me. Or he may tell you something completely different.
Whatever he convicts you of, receive it. And next time you go to tweet or post or share, ask him to search your heart and reveal whether your goal is kindness or shame.