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5 Questions to Ask Before Hitting Share

Almost everyone I know has experienced post-regret, the feeling you get after you post something on social media and then wish you hadn't. I know a few people who haven't. Actually, I don't.

Who hasn't jumped into the black hole of a Facebook argument or posted something personal in a moment of frustration only have the wrong people see it (and comment on it) or impulsively hit share on a witty-but-cutting meme or tweet?

Social media is a great way to connect with others, but it is full of potential hazards and hassles. And, as a Christ-follower, this can be particularly dangerous, since what I say, post, repost, or share, reflects not just on me, but on my savior. So, how can I make wise social media decisions?

In the hope of helping us all use our social media more responsibly and effectively, I thought through five questions that we should ask before we hit that "share" button:

Is it true?

As people of the Bible, this should be a no-brainer, but it sadly isn't. If we find something funny or affirming of our thinking, it is just so easy to hit "share" or "retweet" without taking the time to find out if what we are sharing is true. When we do that, we often pass along to our friends and followers misrepresentations or even outright lies with our personal endorsement. We are telling them that we hold our personal opinions as greater value than truth. Instead of asking, "Do I agree with it?" we should be asking, "Is it true?" When we share things that aren't true, we misrepresent Jesus and deceive people who trust us. We are telling people loud and clear: I don't care about truth; I only care about being right.

Is it helpful?

Beyond asking if something is true, we really should take the next step and ask if it is helpful. I'm not saying we should ask if it would be helpful to our cause or our personal agenda. We should ask if it is helpful to our friends and followers. Will it "edify" them - a biblical word that means to "build up into greater maturity in Christ." Will what we post encourage people to become more like Jesus? A funny cat video or an insightful political post can both be edifying (who doesn't need more laughter or real understanding of difficult political topics?), but we would do well to remember that there are many true things that are simply not going to be helpful to build people up.

Am I motivated by love?

James reminds us that the anger of man doesn't achieve the righteousness of God (James 1:20). One of the biggest temptations on social media is to allow someone else's post to rile us up, and then in self-righteous anger, to fire off a response or a competing post. I don't know anyone who has done that who could come back later and say, "Man, I'm glad I did that. Totally saw the righteousness of God come out of that!" We are our strongest, spiritually and mentally, when we are operating not from anger but humility. Before we try to post truth, we should ensure we have taken time to settle our hearts in grace, because if we speak from anything but love, we are simply adding to the senseless noise of our culture (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). On a special note, don't get sucked in to the trap of thinking that it is your responsibility to attack people because they are defaming the name of God. Last time I checked, he can take care of his own name and his own agenda, and he will do that through us as we represent him well as ministers of reconciliation (not tools of retribution) (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).


Should this be a personal conversation

Because social media is a third person dialogue (instead of a face to face conversation), it is very easy to say things about people (or even at people) that should be said to people. The next time you are getting ready to hit "share," ask yourself if what you are posting is meant to rebut, correct, or get back at someone else for their post, attitude, or comments. If so, highlight everything you typed out and delete it. Then open up messenger (or pick up a phone) and send them a personal message explaining your concern, hurt, or offense from a place of humility and love seeking reconciliation and edification. Social media is a platform for cowards and frauds - don't fall in to the temptation to try to guard your glory instead of seeking another person's good. Even if you don't know them, they are still created in the image of God and deserve the respect due that image.

If my post will offend, is this the right offense to bring?

There are hills that are worth dying on, but they are few and far between. We all know that we live in a culture that loves to take offense and cast shame on people we think deserve offense. Before you post something that you know might be offensive to someone, you should ask yourself if the offense you are making is the right offense. Sometimes love offends, even as it acts in humility and expresses itself in gentleness, but most of the time it isn't our love that offends people. It's our arrogance, abrasiveness, or self-absorption. If we are going to offend, we need to make sure what we are posting passes question 2 - will this offense bring edification. Will it build up and encourage people to mature in Christ. If not, it is better to pass on the post.

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