Crucial Considerations for Christians Interacting on Social Media

Contributing Writer
Crucial Considerations for Christians Interacting on Social Media

Our words can leave an impact. They reveal our attitudes and beliefs, and can affect the thoughts and feelings of others. And nowhere is this more true than in the written communication we have online. Comments remain for readers to see long after we have hit post. None of this is new, but lately a sense of division and tension seems to have taken more of a hold on the internet.

As followers of Christ, we can set a positive example in this area. We have an opportunity, in a very public way, to reflect God’s love by writing our honest thoughts while still showing respect and compassion. And right now, the world – at large and online – needs more of that.

Why Does It Matter if We Are Positive on Social Media?

It’s easy to think that a comment doesn’t make a lot of difference beyond the moment it’s sent, and that tone isn’t that important. But all we have to do is remember a time when we read something negative directed at us to realize how we express ourselves really does matter.

Approaching our online communications correctly can honor God. How? By choosing to treat others the way God calls us to, we are walking in obedience to His Ways. When this becomes a habit, our faith life grows stronger in the process.

The Apostle Paul wrote this about sharing with others:

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt…” (Colossians 4:6).

Allowing grace to lead what we write will end up inviting real connection with someone. If our tone is more positive, others may be more willing to think about our ideas. And whatever the outcome, we and others feel uplifted and maybe even challenged, in a good way. God can use that to soften the hearts of any reader that comes across those posts.

Elements of Positive Communication

Many say that as we communicate more online, we are losing the etiquette of writing. That may sound old-fashioned, but sometimes the comments people leave show a surprising lack of courtesy. If we want to find ways to say our opinions and ideas with care, some of these traits will help us get in the right frame of mind:

Respect - Remembering that an actual person will be reading our post

Thoughtfulness - Taking the time to come up with a constructive post

Empathy - Being aware of how others might interpret our post

Open-mindedness - Hoping to enlighten someone or learn something new through our post

Focus - Keeping to the main subject in our post

How God Wants Us to Communicate

Throughout The Bible are passages that remind us that God is always aware of how we interact with others. When the verses were first written, speech was the main way people communicated. But studying even a few will reveal principles that apply just as effectively to our modern methods of sharing.

“Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).

David chose specific terms - guard, keep watch - that were associated with his military experience. They create an image of a sentry, dedicated to preventing anything wrong from escaping. He clearly believed in the importance of discipline in how he connected with others. And that is still vital for anyone wanting to write a comment.

Mother Teresa is quoted as saying, “Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.” What we post will be visible and can have impact - good or bad - for a very long time. Taking time to pray about the words we write is time well spent.

“Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions” (Proverbs 18:2).

The writer of this verse reveals an underlying tug-of-war many people have when getting ready to voice their thoughts: gaining understanding vs. simply airing their opinions. Put another way, someone can plan to listen to and consider the ideas of someone else, or he can be focused only on himself and his own agenda. We want our writing to have meaning for others as well as ourselves.

In John Gill’s Bible Commentary, we see the faulty inner motivation of this kind of person, “…such men only desire to have some knowledge and understanding, to make a show of it, that they may be thought to be wise, and to be capable of talking of things as if they understood them...”

“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken” (Matthew 12:36).

Jesus gave this caution to His disciples, but the truth is that all of us will stand before God individually and be asked to explain our choices in life. And our online presence, including what we write, is something we are responsible for.

“Empty” is a strong word to use; some synonyms include blank, hollow, and vacant. John Gill’s Commentary goes into more detail: “By an ‘idle word’ is meant, what the Jews call, ‘light conversation,’ and ‘vain discourse’…frothy language, unprofitable talk…”

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

The Apostle Paul was addressing speech here, but we must be just as careful with our typing. He knew that “unwholesome” can be associated with other, more troubling words like poisonous; rotten; contaminated, or dangerous. But he went on to contrast all those with the word “helpful.” We can see a clear choice, whether to build up or tear down as we set our thoughts to writing.

How to Apply These Truths

When we’re thinking about adding to the comments section of an article or other post someone has put up, we should take a few moments to prepare our hearts and minds. Remembering those qualities of positive communication is a great start. Then, to set that guard around us, we can ask several questions:

- Have I taken time to grasp what this person’s point of view is on this subject?

- What is my motivation for posting this comment?

- Am I posting this comment in the heat of emotion?

- Do I care more about having my opinion heard, or having an honest discussion about this topic?

- What do I hope to achieve by posting this comment?

The other perspective that needs to be mentioned is that of the person who sees the comments - the person who has posted their article, piece of art, or video. They have put something out into the online world and must expect that they will hear what others think or feel about their work.

For those of us who are online authors, speakers or artists, being aware of some realities can help us keep a more balanced and hopefully positive reaction to comments that come our way:

- People’s backgrounds, experiences and even present circumstances can influence how they respond to what we have put out.

- It’s challenging but important to separate our identity from what we post, and to cultivate a good sense of our own values, beliefs and opinions.

- Deciding not to take someone’s comments too much to heart can be hard, but that will help us process each comment, to possibly get something good out of it. 

- Take some time to consider if we really want to engage with a commenter - and what we would want to get out of that - before responding.

A Quick Prayer for Online Communication

Heavenly Father,

It says in Scripture that You are love, and I’m so thankful that You show us that love every day. I pray that I can be a reflection of that love as I communicate with others in writing. I ask for peace in my own spirit, and a heart that looks to the good of others. Help me to read or observe their work with a desire to see what they are trying to express. And let me respond with both truth and kindness. Thank You for guidance in this area. 

I pray this in Jesus’ name,


Photo credit: ©Getty Images/kitzcorner

Heather Adams 1200x1200Heather Adams is an author, speaker, and singer living in Connecticut. Heather’s passion is to equip and encourage believers to seek more of God’s truth and to experience more of His joy each day. Her book, Bow Down: The Heart of a True Worshipper is a practical, 30-day devotional about worship based on the writings of King David. Heather's blog, Worship Walk Ministries, offers weekly Scripture passages and insights to ponder. A native New Englander, Heather is settling into her home in the South, trying out local foods and watching for the alligators that live nearby!