10 Commandments for Social Media (Commandment #3)

 

            I must confess, I am excited to be able to “dive into” this one! Not merely because it is going to address “head on” the issue of language used by professing believers in our land, but because of the positive, pro-active opportunity it provides for us in our hearts to “honor Christ the Lord as Holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” as Peter exhorts us to do in his first epistle (I Pet.3:15 ESV).  Wow, did you get that message? You & I have the opportunity to magnify the reputation of God in our conversation to others … both saved and lost alike!

            I thank God that He has given men the knowledge to be able to invent such social media tools as we have available to us today. Now granted, you & I both know how damaging and “relationship-breaking” these tools can, and have been used. But I do not believe the instrument “in and of itself” is the problem, but rather the avenue through which ungodly men (and also many “fleshly” believers) have chosen to display the lusts of their own hearts. After all, the corruption in this world came as a result of the lusts (evil desires) of men. (Eph.4:22;   II Pet.1:4; I Jn.2:15-17)

 in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as Holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”

             So, if God gives men the ability to design tools of communication that make the world a smaller place (and that certainly is the case today), should not we as His ambassadors avail ourselves of those tools to spread the good news of the gospel? We can either ignore a world that is heading “full speed ahead” into eternity without Christ, or we can “step up to the plate,” learn how to use these tools properly and do ALL we can to fulfill the Great Commission of Mt.28:18-20, even on the internet! However, we must remember that “to whom MUCH is given, MUCH WILL BE REQUIRED.” (Lk.12:48) As much of a blessing as the social media CAN be if used correctly, it will equally be a curse if we as Christians exercise no better sense in its use than lost people do. I guarantee you … lost people ARE reading, they ARE watching, they ARE looking for answers … (even if they don’t know it)! So, let’s get to it!

 3)     Do not use God’s name & reputation in a flippant manner to “cover your own backside,” or to excuse a self-centered lifestyle.

Ex. 20:7 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain.

                John Gill in his commentary explains this commandment in this way: “You are not to ‘make use of the name Lord, God or any other name of The Divine Being, in a light or trifling way, i.e.- without a show of reverence & affection to Him; … the name of God ought never be mentioned except in a grave and serious manner, and with an awe of the greatness of His majesty upon the mind.” I must “confess” to you that I have a pet peeve … do you have any of those? Well this is mine … okay, one of mine!

            Have you noticed that one of the favorite terms people like to use these days is the word “awesome?” And they will use it for almost anything … a funny story they hear, a new idea someone came up with, a slam dunk on the basketball court, a new outfit some girl is wearing, an interception and touchdown in a football game, etc.. Well, could I suggest that the word “awesome” should be preserved & limited in its use, or it will quickly lose its true meaning. This word, I believe, should be preserved for God & His miraculous works – period! We should only really “stand in awe” of His greatness, His might deeds, His creation, His character and nature. So, if you want to use that word to describe a sunrise or sunset, the grandeur of the mountains, the beauty of fresh fallen snow, or the power of the crashing waves on the shore … then absolutely, go for it! Or if you are describing a fresh move of God on the hearts of His people, or the wonder of a child created in His image, or the joy of a brand new “baby” Christian who has just been born again … then I say, “Yes” absolutely … these things are indeed “awesome,” and worthy of our praise to our God! Stand in awe of Him … Him alone! Okay … I’m done with expressing that pet peeve … I think! My point is, let the word “awesome” be preserved for God and God alone – this would of course include His creative skills being displayed for His glory!

      The Jewish writers all agree: this command forbids all profane oaths; imprecations, and curses by the name of God.” They further caution, “swearing by the ‘name of the Lord’ ought not to be used but for the confirmation of a thing, and putting an end to strife.” The second part of the verse reminds us of serious consequences when taking His name in vain, “it is strictly forbidden, it is severely punished by the Lord,” … “for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain” 

          It seems that in recent days in Youth Conferences for our modern, American “Christianity” as it might be called, that the “hip” or “cool” thing to do is to curse (yep, you heard me right) – cussing in the message to use the “shock” method & to be “relevant” and draw in lost people & “seekers.” As unbelievable as that may seem, I am told it is happening. I personally have never been in a conference or service where this has happened, but I can tell you without hesitation, if it ever does happen while I’m there – I am getting up right then and walking out (even if I might be on the platform as one of the speakers)! There is absolutely NO place for that in Christianity! I don’t know about you friend, but that is one of the first things Jesus took out of my life when I got saved … and for the most part, no one even had to tell me what were curse words. I knew … and so do these guys that are doing it! You should be ashamed if indeed you are a follower of Jesus … and you should stop immediately!

        I’ve even watched some interviews on YouTube in which the speakers attempt to justify doing this, with statements like … “we’ve got to show the world that we are real and authentic and that we struggle with things just like they do.” Are you kidding me? [I am also glad to report to you that some of the other younger speakers, who have a strong following have put out a plea to these speakers (also on You Tube and other Social Media avenues) to say to them, “we don’t think this is the right approach.”] I’m not sure that the Social Media avenue is the way we should be handling these issues … I know many see it and that may be good, but in reality, if we want to follow the scriptures, someone who knows these men and has a relationship with them, should be going to them privately and rebuking them and appealing to them to repent. [I also believe, according to the scriptures their repentance & confession should be public … their sin (and that is exactly what it IS) was public and made a mockery of the God they claim to love and follow, and therefore their repentance should be just as public.]

        When are we going to stop hiding behind our profession of “love for Jesus,” and our “freedom in grace” to talk that way?  And when are we going to stop hanging out at the bar and drinking with our lost buddies … all under the guise of saying “Jesus was accused of the same things?” “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’”  Was Jesus a friend of tax collectors & sinners? Absolutely, and we should be too … but it doesn’t mean we have to live like they do! I agree that Jesus was accused of this, but there is not one shred of evidence that Jesus did what they said! After all, if he had been “a glutton,” would that not be a sin? And of course, we know Jesus NEVER sinned!  For such an High Priest became us, Who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;          Heb. 7:26 

            The second thought interestingly is that the scholars warn us not to “use the name of the Lord as a cover-up” or as an excuse for our “own” interests. In other words, we should be careful of using the phrase, “God told me to!” Certainly we are very guilty in this age of expressing that “God led us” to do something. We seem to use this phrase as a means of silencing any and all questions from observers. I cannot tell you how many times in counseling, over 35 years, that I’ve had someone tell me “God led them” to do something, when what they did is in reality directly forbidden by scripture! Especially in this age of tolerance, where many say “there is no absolute truth” and “who are you to force your opinion on another believer?” People actually think you are being judgmental or self righteous to challenge them Biblically on something they’ve done, supposedly, “in the name of God.”

            This is not to say God does not lead us as His children, He most certainly does, but to use this phrase or similar, as a means of not having to give account of our actions, is nothing less than a “cop-out!” This statement “for the LORD will not hold him guiltless” is given more as a warning to remember that the reputation of God is more important than us positioning a situation to make ourselves look good. In other words, we must stop hiding behind the name of God to “cover our own backside.” Don’t “blame God” for your own thoughts or your own foolishness or impetuous behavior.

        John Wesley said, “It is the duty of Christians to give the world a right opinion of God.” To that thought, I give my own hearty “Amen!” This is our challenge in this commandment … to give a glorious reflection of God & His glory to those who are viewing our lives or reading our reactions on the social networks!

“It is the duty of Christians to give the world a right opinion of God.”       John Wesley

There is one thing that is “near & dear” to the heart of God – that is His own glory, His own reputation, His own “name’s sake.” He wants to “be known,” both by His people and by those who thus far have chosen to reject or resist Him.

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth’s sake. Psa 115:1

      Over and over again, we see in scripture that God moves and works for His own name & kingdom’s sake. Here are just a few examples taken from the Psalms … you can investigate this for yourself and see throughout the Bible, God moves for His glory:

  • Ps. 25:11  For Thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.
  • Ps. 31:3  For Thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for Thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.
  • Ps. 79:9  Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for Thy name’s sake.
  • Ps. 109:21  But do thou for me, O GOD the Lord, for Thy name’s sake: because Thy mercy is good, deliver thou me.
  • Ps. 143:11  Quicken me, O LORD, for Thy name’s sake: for Thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.

             To follow up this line of thinking a bit further, God makes Himself known, so that people will find no room to doubt His reality, His power, His existence, and the fact that He is Sovereign & in control.

  • The Lord, for example, told Moses, I have hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.”
  • He commanded Joshua to set the stones from the riverbed of the Jordan River in Gilgal as a testimony so that all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty.”
  • David told Goliath, This day will the LORD deliver you into mine hand; and I will smite you & … the Philistines this day … so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”
  • Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar, Seven years will pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men.
  • God spoke to Cyrus, as the king (who did not know God) and explained to him, “I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides Me there is no God; I established you, though you do not know Me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides Me; I am the LORD, and there is no other.”

Our God wants to be known in this world. It’s quite simple … He has left us here to be mouthpieces for His kingdom, His power & His glory!

       Does this not make you stop and wonder, “How much of my ‘venting’ on social media would be different if I only took the time first to think and consider the reputation of God displayed in my words?”We are told in I Corinthians 10:31 – “Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or WHATSOEVER you do, do all to the glory of God!” This is our purpose … that everything we do, should bring glory to God. So, here is the challenge of this command – before we write, or share, or vent, or whatever else you choose to call your social expressions … we must ask ourselves this question, “How will this reflect on our God, His name, His reputation, His glory!

Remember:

You are not your own. For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.  1Cor. 6:19, 20

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