10 Commandments for Social Media (Commandment #2)

            Solomon tells us in his words of wisdom, “Death & life are in the power of the tongue”(Pro.18:21). This morning as I was reflecting on this whole issue, I could not get away from the warning James gives us concerning our words. James, as you may know, is considered by many to have written “the Proverbs of the New Testament” since his letter is filled with such practical wisdom for everyday life. I don’t think I’ve ever read chapter three in his epistle without coming away convicted in my heart about my own personal need. I want to review a few of those verses, let them soak in our spirit & see if God may use them in your heart as he does in mine. I’ve abbreviated them (taken out portions that you can of course read for yourself) in order to highlight the special warning to our hearts as we “speak” through social networking with others & for the Lord. Spend a few minutes, not just reading but meditating (chewing) on God’s Word:

 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect (mature) man, able also to bridle his whole body … So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. The tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is … setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell … no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. (Jms.3:2-10 abbreviated from English Standard Version)

            You may remember that in this passage, James parallels control over the tongue to a bit in a horse’s mouth, a rudder on a ship & a fire that burns up the forest. All of those are preventable choices … we use the bit to turn the horse, the rudder to turn the ship and know better than to strike the match that sets the forest on fire! Have you ever been guilty of saying (writing) something in an e-mail, a comment line, a thread in Facebook, etc., sent it, and as soon as you did, know that it was too spontaneous … too “off the cuff,” too reactionary, without being thought or prayed through? I must confess … I surely have.  And then had to spend the next hours (or even days) trying to clean it up, clear my conscience and ask God to bring healing to my heart or others. I assure you … that is NOT fun! As you know, if you read my last blog, I am approaching this subject through the Ten Commandments which God gave us in Exodus 20 & often repeated throughout the Old & New Testament. So, the Lord willing we will discover together the importance of applying the principles taught in these 10 commandments to our use of the social media. If you’re ready, let’s tackle #2!

 1)     Guard your heart against idols – do not make, bow down to, or serve any “graven image” of ANYTHING God created.

 Exo 20:4-6  You shall not make unto you any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep my commandments.

            Wow! This is “a biggie” you might say, and we certainly won’t sufficiently cover this subject in one article. Perhaps we can at least tackle two parts of this commandment. One would be to perhaps define “what is an idol?” Then we will note the specific warnings given in this passage of “attraction to” an idol. Many times, revival came to God’s people when they tore down the “high places” and removed “the groves” … these were of course the places set up for idol worship. I do hope you realize however, that this is not just an Old Testament issue. As a matter of fact, I have often mused over the last warning that John gives us in his first epistle, “Little children, keep yourself from idols.” (I Jn.5:21) Wow John, I think you said “a mouthful” in that little closing!

            Let’s look at it in its context to see if we can understand why this man of God, so in love with Jesus, has a concern of idolatry for his listeners.

    We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him(self), and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.   1Jn 5:18-21 

 

So, can we “bottom line” and capture a “take away” from John’s warning here:

1) We have an enemy – Satan

2) The whole world lies under his power (Here is what John Gill writes in his commentary about “the world” –  the men of the world, the greater part of the inhabitants of it, who are as they were when they came into it, not being born of God; these are addicted to sin and, wickedness; the bias of their minds is to it, they are set upon it, and give themselves up to it, are immersed in it, and are under the power of it: or “in the wicked one”; they are under Satan, the god of this world; his influence, and led according to his will, and they are governed by him, and are at his beck and command; and this is known, by sad experience, it is easy of observation)

3) We possess “truth” in the person of Truth Himself – Jesus Christ & His Word (Jn.17:17)

4) We must apply the truth of His Word to the temptations of the devil & his domination of the world 

5) We must refuse to surrender any part of our being to “the world, the flesh & the devil.”             (I Jn.2:15-17)

             [This is a subject for another time, so I will just mention it and move on, but do you realize that we ALL worship something? We were created to worship … it is our DNA & of course God’s purpose for creating us was that we might be wholly, entirely surrendered to worshipping Him! (Rev.4:11, Eph.1:3-14) So, as I said, that theme is for another time, but please understand … you are going to worship something or someone!]

            One thing we can quickly learn in studying about idols is that they may be an actual object, or they may be a figment of our imagination – something “set up” in our mind or heart. Idols are something that we give value, time & attention to. Someone simplified the definition by saying, “it is anything in life that you devote your money & time to more directly than you do your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”  By using this simple definition, I must confess that there are things that immediately come on my radar screen that I have to reflect on & ask myself to be honest … is that an idol in my life? Certainly one of the greatest problems in the people of God today (beginning with that guy I shave in the mirror each morning) is to relegate truth merely to our minds, thinking that because I KNOW a truth, therefore I am LIVING that truth. And as the saying goes, (and as we know) “nothing could be further from the truth!” This study will do more harm than good, UNLESS we obey whatever God shows us personally.

            So, an idol could be an object – either something created by God, or something designed by man. Or it could be an idea or philosophy exalted in our lives or society. Wow … there’s a lot out there, isn’t there? We could “worship” a person (including ourselves or our own body), a pet, a statue, a T.V. program, a sport (or sports team), an artist (including Christian musical artists). There is a reason, you know, why they call the show American Idol! It could be even a performer or a comedian or a reality show that you just HAVE to see and follow every week, after all we ARE SO entertainment oriented in America today (even in the church). It could be an author (including Christian writers or theologians), or dare I say, even a “doctrine” can become idolatrous? (I know some Christians who are more in love with their “Calvinistic doctrines” than they are their Savior! I expect that will raise some eyebrows … but it is true, nonetheless. Many of us have witnessed the intellectual pride of contention over a doctrinal position cause factions & division within a body of believers. When Paul addressed it in Corinthians, he said that when they are followers of Paul, Peter, Apollos, etc.[add your own favorite teachers’ names in America] that they were carnal and acting like lost people.                   I Cor.1:12-13; 3:3-6,22-23;4:6)  

            Now, our second consideration is this, an idol according to the second commandment is something WE 1) make, 2) bow down to (worship) & 3) serve. If you are familiar even on a casual basis with the Old Testament – you remember the illustrations and the warnings about idolatry. [Exodus 34:12-17; Num.25:1-11; Deut.7:1-6,12:1-9; Isa.44:8-22; Psa.115:3-11; 135:15-18] Over and over again God’s people were told – do not take them unto yourself (remember Achan – Josh.6:18;7:1,10-13,20-26), because when you do, then you WILL bow down to them & serve them.

Here is where we must pray (again) the prayer of Psa.139:23,24 – “Search me, O God.” Caution, do not “search yourself” that is dangerous because our hearts are “deceitful & desperately wicked” & inevitably, we will leave things uncovered, unconfessed & therefore unchanged & still imbedded in our hearts. Again, perhaps we need to consider the subject matter of our media networking, our conversations, our postings of “our favorites” (movies, music, add-ons, likes & dislikes, maybe even our political leanings). If at this point, we find ourselves becoming defensive or reactionary, we need to ask ourselves “Why” are my emotions so heated or elevated? Is there something on your Facebook (or whatever other media avenues you use) that reflects negatively on the reputation of God and His followers? Have you chosen “a hill to die on” that you are unwilling for God to remove from its place of high influence in your life?

            Anything … anything that we are hesitant to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives has undoubtedly become an idol in our lives. We do not want to hear God say of us, as He did of Ephraim in Hosea 4:17, “Ephraim is joined to idols, leave him alone.”

Please Lord, do not leave us to ourselves!

Little children (of God) … keep (guard) yourself from idols!

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