This topic is adapted from THE BEAT by Allen Parr YouTube channel.
How would you rate your use of social media as a Christian? Is social media your “frenemy?” Allen Parr points out some of the traps Christians fall into while using social media.
Trap One: The Coveting Trap
This is when we begin coveting someone else’s platform, influence, success, or other social media capital. If we’re not careful, we’ll begin getting our validation and self-worth based on our social media popularity or exposure.
Exodus 20:17 You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.
Trap Two: The Venting Trap
Scripture teaches that a fool vents all of their anger (Proverbs 29:11). Christians should exercise caution in what they say on social media and the tone they take while doing so. While it is true that Jesus showed anger and criticism for others and expressed it verbally, it is important to note that the bulk of his anger and criticism in the Bible was toward his followers who were acting foolish, greedy salespeople in the temple, and religious elite who were hypocrites and oppressors.
The next time you’re tempted to blast someone on social media, consider finding a better way to vent your feelings.
2 Timothy 2:23-25 Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.
Trap Three: The Comparison Trap
It is easy to compare your reality to somebody else’s highlight reel. We can get the impression that others’ situations are perfect, but in truth, most people share their highlights, not their low times.
We might be tempted to believe that our lives are awful because we don’t have what we believe others have, but we don’t know what is really going on with people unless we are living life with them rather than simply viewing them through our computer and phone screens.
We must be thankful for what God has provided for us. Jealousy over the imagined successes and blessings of others is unwise.
Galatians 5:19-21 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Trap Four: The Time Trap
Social media can cause use to waste a lot of time. The average American spends 3.5 hours per day on social media. But how much time are Christians spending in the scriptures, prayer, or face-to-face fellowship with other believers? How much time do we spend working out, cooking, practicing music, reading books, helping others, or enjoying friends and family?
Your time is valuable. Don’t fritter it away by endlessly scrolling.
Ephesians 5:15-17 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.
Trap Five: The Secrecy Trap
Over 20% of all divorces today have some connection to meeting online, and 41% of people caught cheating said their actions online led to them being caught cheating. Social media may be conducive to us having secret, illicit relationships with friends or old acquaintances.
Make sure your significant other is comfortable with and aware of your interactions with others on social media, and be aware of how your browsing affects your thought life and behavior. It is not for nothing that Jesus warns us:
Matthew 5:27-30 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
Trap Six: The Distraction Trap
Have you ever been out to dinner and seen a couple a few tables away looking down into their laps at their phones instead of talking with one another? If so, you’ve seen the distraction trap in action.
Social media can distract us from building meaningful and engaging real-life relationships. Instead of engaging with our friends who are having dinner with us or enjoying our company, we are swiping on our phones! If we’re not careful, this can send the message that the person we are with is unworthy of our attention.
When you are with people, put down the phone. Give them your full attention, not a half-hearted token of attention. Like Jesus, we should be focused on what we are doing and who we are with.
John 4:34 Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.”
Trap Seven: The Co-Signing Trap
Like it or not, what we share on social media is a reflection not just of us as individuals, but of Christianity on the whole. It is like we are giving our stamp of approval to what we share. This could cause others to think that we or Christianity fully agree with what we share, even if we only agree with one or two points.
This is especially relevant when it comes to sharing about politics. While we may like some or even most of what our party or candidate stands for, there are probably some things about our party or candidate that may not match up with our personal beliefs or with what the Bible teaches, and we should be careful about how gung-ho we are about the things we share publicly, lest we drag Jesus’s name through the mud in the process. If we call ourselves Christians, then people associate Jesus and Christianity with us.
2 Corinthians 5:20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors…
Social media is probably going to be around for the long-haul. It’s important for Christians to do a “cost-benefit analysis” and decide their personal limits in time, exposure, and content. Don’t let social media infect your thought life and behavior. Don’t let it damage your Christian witness as a member of God’s family. What you do matters – even if it’s done from then end of a smartphone or keyboard.
Written content for this topic by Daniel Martin.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- What social media platforms do you use most? Why these platforms?
- What are some good things you’ve seen happen because of social media?
- What are some bad things you’ve seen happen because of social media?
- Have you ever been tempted to get validation from social media popularity or exposure? Explain.
- Why is it important that we know where our true value comes from – as God’s creations and children? Explain.
- Have you ever been involved in a social media argument? Why did you get involved? What happened in the end? Was there any lasting change or impact that came from the argument?
- Have you ever been tempted to compare your life to the social media highlight reels of others? Or have you known someone who does do this? What happened?
- How much time would you estimate you spend on social media daily? How does this compare with the time you spend doing other things like cooking, working, studying, etc.? How does it compare to the time you spend in your Bible, in prayer, personal worship, or face-to-face fellowship with other Christians?
- Do you think you spend too much time on social media? If so, what steps must you take to lower the amount of time you spend on social media?
- Have you known of a relationship that has struggled or even ended because of online infidelity? Share the story as you are able and comfortable.
- If you are in a relationship, have you had a conversation with your partner about interactions with others online? Why or why not?
- Have you ever seen friends or family members (your own or strangers) ignoring each other because they were too busy on social media? Or have you yourself been guilty of this from time to time? How did/do you feel about it?
- Have you ever been lumped in with an ideal or group because of something you shared on social media? Or have you been tempted to think this of others who have? Explain.
- Overall, do you think social media is more of a blessing or more of a hindrance in your life? Explain.
- What do you need to do to make sure you’re controlling your social media – not the other way around?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.