10 Commandments for Social Media (Commandment #6)

10 Commandments for Social Media

Commandment #6

     As we approach the next commandment, we get into something that most of us would readily “pat ourselves on the back” and say … “no worries mate” that doesn’t apply to me. It is a biggie after all … thou shalt not kill. We would never think of ourselves as a murderer! For the most part, we have grown up with a respect for human life & everyone’s right to their own (that is, except the unborn … but that subject will “have to wait for another day” as they say). If you remember, our forefathers who established “the American experiment,” came to this land to take the Bible seriously and establish a unique government founded upon a Judeo-Christian ethic that protected an individual’s “right” to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

     Do you remember that line in “It’s a Wonderful Life” where God is in heaven talking with Clarence, “AS2” (Angel – Second Class) about the situation that George Bailey is engaged in and He says something like … “He’s thinking seriously of throwing away God’s greatest gift.” I’m not sure of the exact quote (and I probably should know it as many times as we’ve watched this movie as a family), but that is the essence of the line of thought! Life IS the most sacred gift God has given us, and for the most part in the real world … you only get one chance at it. Oh, I know that in the world of video games, you get as many chances at life (start over) as you want … but that IS NOT reality. So, as we consider this command, the essential question for us to ponder is this … how do I “value” the life of another? How do I keep from taking away from another their “essential being?”

6)     Exo 20:13  Thou shalt not kill.

     So, there it is … do not kill – do not destroy (take away the life) through any means, of another rational created being – not physically, not with words, nor with anger in our heart (as Jesus taught). How do we keep from killing another … especially in today’s society where to a large degree we’ve bought into the philosophy that “it’s all about me!” You know, when we buy into the idea that the world evolves around me, then it’s rather easy to justify thinking … saying … doing anything necessary to advance “me” at the expense of others, because we’ve become “man – centered” rather than “God – centered” in our mindset. So, to address this command, we must remember that when Jesus walked on this earth as “one of us,” He taught that the essence of God’s commands for men was not merely external conformity, but rather internal heart change. That is the essence of much of the teaching of the Beatitudes.  “You have heard it said … BUT I say unto you …” This is where our Christianity either comes to LIFE … or  DIES on the vine, as they say.

By the way, I hope you are not one of those misguided American believers who feels that since the 10 Commandments were given in the Old Testament and we are now living in the dispensation of grace, that “none of that O.T. stuff has anything to do with us to benefit our Christian lives.” Oh, how wrong you would be, and would then have so much from a New Testament perspective to answer for if you believe that.  Just for an example and then we’ll move on: Jesus Himself often quotes in a positive way the 10 commandments (Mt.5:21-28; Mk10:19; Lk.18:20; Jn.7:19), then we have other New Testament writers referring to them in a positive light as well, meaning they were still important and in place in the age of grace – Paul (Rom. 2:21-24, 13:9) & James (Jms. 2:8-11). They (the 10 Commandments) make plain the moral law of God by His very nature and you cannot remove them anymore than you can destroy God Himself! So, here, I think is the essence of this command when it comes to social networking:

  • Do not allow jealousy to find its way into your comments concerning others in a social media avenue.

For our purpose then, of using social networking for edification, exhortation & advancement of the kingdom of God, we must go beyond the essence of actually ending someone’s life (which hopefully none of us would ever entertain such a thought) into heart attitudes that reflect the same destructive force, in essence, of removing another person’s existence. It has been said that jealousy is “the fear of being displaced.” Be honest now, is there someone you would just as soon “did not exist” because you compare yourself to them, or feel in some way in competition with them? If they weren’t around, I could be his/her best friend. If they weren’t around I could be Dad/Mom’s favorite? If they weren’t around, I could get that part in the play, or they might ask me to take that solo instead of her/him! Jealousy is a deadly disease.

The question we must ask ourselves is “do I entertain negative thoughts toward another person that are destructive in nature?” Do I have “a desire to kill” their reputation, their thoughts, their agenda, their opinions or philosophy of life that is different than mine? Now, before you take that line of thinking too far down the road of “tolerance” … let me say that there are some philosophies in existence “out there” that need to be destroyed, that need to be challenged and confronted! That is not what we are talking about here … we are instead talking about not tearing down another person just to make ourselves look better. Not attacking a person just because our opinion or outlook on life is different.

  • Do not use social media avenues as a means of “self promotion” or “self protectionism” … leave your reputation with God.

There is a difference between defending the reputation and glory of God (standing for TRUTH) … and defending our own reputation (standing for SELF). We are to be ambassadors for Christ, as His representatives we should stand for truth, we should “speak the truth in love” & we should “contend for the faith” as Jude commanded. However, for the most part, it is not our job to tear down someone else in order to make ourselves look better. I personally have encountered a number of situations in the last few years in which I could have said something that might make me look better then someone else in a given situation, you probably have too … but that is not our place to do … especially when it would be “at the expense” of someone else’s reputation. That is indeed the temptation in this commandment … will you destroy someone else in some form, in order to protect yourself? That is what we are NOT to do. You shall not kill! We must develop the mindset of John the Baptist when people came to him attempting to stir up a comparison (a jealousy) between him and Jesus. His response must become ours – He must increase, but I must decrease.”

  • Do not allow vindictive, destructive attitudes concerning others to enter into your use of social media avenues.

Do you remember that passage of scripture we referred to in another of the commandments … “death & life are in the power of the tongue?” That is what this challenge is all about. To “kill” as we look in the New Testament is addressed by several of the writers in dealing with heart matters that affect another person.  Remember Jesus’ words concerning Satan himself in Jn. 10:10, “the thief comes to steal, to kill & to destroy.” That is the thought addressed here. What might be the destructive force of our words to steal from someone (rob their good name unnecessarily), to kill (annihilate their personhood, their worth), or to destroy (to slander their reputation in an angry or vindictive manner). Jesus, for example warns of condemning & calling someone a fool & holding a deep, vindictive, indignant contemptuous anger without a cause (the Greek word means “as if to spit upon”) in our heart toward another as equivalent to the desire to kill them and places us in a position of deserving judgment upon ourselves.

I witnessed firsthand a Youth Pastor & his wife – who felt they were mistreated & unappreciated at their church. She determined to use Facebook as a means of “getting their message out” to the youth and their parents. (Along with the rest of the world, I might add!) Here was the problem with that decision: much of what they reported was false, meant to make themselves “look good,” secondly they were telling perhaps 1,000’s of people who were neither “a part of the problem or a part of the solution” (that is known as gossip), thirdly it added “fuel to the fire” rather than helping solve grievances, fourthly it damaged the reputation of God – as others thought of how that particular church handles conflicts within the congregation, fifthly – because it was broadcast to the world, their sin (as Nathan the prophet told David the king years ago) “gave great occasion to the enemies of God to blaspheme” His name (II Sam.12:14). I was grateful that in this particular case, two of the Youth Workers (women) did the Biblical thing and went directly to that Youth Pastor’s wife to challenge her words & manner of handling this situation. She listened to them, agreed with them, and said she would remove her past statements from public viewing. They prayed together & left rejoicing that God had honored their handling of the scenario in a Biblical manner! However, by the time they returned to their own home, they also found that she had “de-friended” them on Facebook! What “Junior High” mentality! No wonder lost people in the social realm point the finger at professing Christians & say “what have they got, that I don’t have?” Unfortunately, in many cases they are right … we act just like, or worse than unbelievers in the handling of problems.

So, here’s the bottom line – do not kill! Don’t use social media as a means of “venting” your personal feelings concerning another. As a rule of thumb:  Private matters should be handled in a private setting (if it’s going on in your heart & mind – handle it there – between you and God). Personal matters should be handled in a personal setting (if it’s going on in relationship with someone in particular – handle it with them alone). Only public matters should be handled in a public setting … and then, only through a proper Biblical fashion.

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