Seasoned With Salt: Demonstrating Love in a Sea of Online Bitterness

by Barron Ryan

I’ve had a lot of bad ideas for social media posts. I’ve been really tempted to complain about poor restaurant service, the driver who cut me off, or my ranting ideological opponents, and I’m ashamed to admit that that I’ve been guilty of publishing such comments. And while posting some devastatingly clever critique might have been temporarily satisfying, I have a hard time believing that it would have been godly.

I know—the Bible doesn’t have anything direct to say about Facebook. But it has plenty to say about the way Christians are to interact with one another and the outside world. And what is social media but different forms of interaction between people? So let’s review a few points Scripture has to say about relationships as you craft your next post.

You’re Part of One Body

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Cor. 12:15) Before you write a word, remember that you post as a member of the church. And as members of the church, we’re called to “Encourage one another and build each other up”. (1 Thess. 5:11)

So while you might be tempted to vent about horrible service by an airline or a frustrating interaction with friend, posting a bitter tweet probably won’t encourage anyone. You (and your followers) would be better off if you express your frustration in prayer first. But then what should you write?

Start by Saying Nothing

You don’t have to read much of Proverbs to be told that it’s a good idea to keep your mouth shut. I’d argue this also applies to keyboard-tapping fingers. “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” (Proverbs 10:19) “Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.” (Proverbs 11:12) “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.” (Proverbs 17:28)

So on social media, it’s best to start by saying nothing. Read, observe, and reflect on what others are saying before adding your voice to the fray.

If You Must Speak

That’s not to say you should always remain silent. While it can be wise to be quiet, Scripture also teaches that “The lips of the righteous nourish many” (Proverbs 10:21a) and “the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18b) So what do the righteous and wise say to bring about those results?

To other believers, we’re instructed to be an encouragement (2 Cor. 13:11), while with outsiders we’re to “make the most of every opportunity” and let our “conversations be always full of grace” (Col. 4:5–6).

So subject each social media post to a two-part test: First, is it an encouragement to the body of Christ? Second, is it full of grace so as to make the most of every opportunity with nonbelievers? If you answer “yes” to both questions, thank you for demonstrating love online. I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Barron Ryan knows a thing or two about getting stuff done. He’s a professional pianist who practices many hours each day and blogs at BarronRyan.com.

2 Comments on Seasoned With Salt: Demonstrating Love in a Sea of Online Bitterness

  1. Thanks Barron. Good words.

    Like

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