In this age of social media it’s easy to post a quote, retweet a thought, or put something on Facebook. Point, click, copy…it’s easy, right? But easy doesn’t mean it’s true – for us.
I know I’m guilty. I’ve preached sermons through the years, and I wasn’t living them out in my own life. It’s easy to post truth, but harder to live it. It’s easy to find a neat quote and yet have no desire to be evaluated by that quote in our daily lives.
Maybe we (or at least I) need to think about our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter posts before we hit “retweet” or “share.” Whether we say words or type them out, we should live in such a way that we will not be labeled as hypocrites. We should walk our talk.
You don’t have to repent when you are honest and have integrity in what you do and say. There are no degrees of honesty. Honesty should be a characteristic of our actions, words, tweets, and retweets. It is dangerous to try to appear to be more spiritual than we really are. Curtis Vaughn said, “One’s mere word should be as trustworthy as a signed agreement attested by legal witnesses.”
Jesus talked about oaths in Matthew chapter five. I don’t want to stretch this verse too far, but it seems to me it has application in the world of social media. ”But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil” (v. 37).
Read these words from Warren Wiersbe:
Jesus taught that our conversation should be so honest, and our character so true, that we would not need “crutches” to get people to believe us. Words depend on character, and oaths cannot compensate for a poor character. “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin; but he that refraineth his lips is wise” (Prov 10:19). The more words a man uses to convince us, the more suspicious we should be.”
In reality, all of us tweet more than we are living up to. The danger is this: are we sending these messages because it is the desire of our heart OR is it a desire to deceive others into thinking we are more spiritual than we really are?
If we aren’t living out what we post in our home and at work, then doesn’t it at some point hinder the gospel rather than expand it? If we go on and on about our wives and kids but we don’t have actions that back up those words, are we not being hypocritical? One of the great dangers I see is that people are saying on Twitter what they should be saying to their wives, kids, husbands, etc. Okay, we get it. Now live it so we can see it. Any twit can tweet. It takes a truthful witness to live out what he or she says on the social network.
In Matthew, Jesus simply emphasized that His followers should tell the truth: When they say yes they mean yes, and when they say no they mean no. Consequently, people can trust and believe anything else they say as well. Those who add to their words with an oath imply that their words cannot be trusted. The phrase “from the evil one” is also translated “from evil,” revealing the sinful one’s need to back up words with a vow. People need oaths only when telling lies is a possibility. As believers, we are accountable to God for every word we speak, so we should speak truthfully.
William Barclay, in his commentary on Matthew, writes these words:
Here is a great eternal truth. Life cannot be divided into compartments in some of which God is involved and in others of which he is not involved; there cannot be one kind of language in the Church and another kind of language in the shipyard or the factory or the office; there cannot be one kind of conduct in the Church and another kind of conduct in the business world. The fact is that God does not need to be invited into certain departments of life, and kept out of others. He is everywhere, all through life and in every activity of life. He hears not only the words which are spoken in his name; he hears all words; and there cannot be any such thing as a form of words which evades bringing God into any transaction. We will regard all promises as sacred if we remember that all promises are made in the presence of God.
What we say should be truthful. It should be an outgrowth and overflow of our actions. If we tweet about holiness, people should be able to see a pursuit of holiness in us. If we tweet about faith, we shouldn’t be known as people who panic. If we tweet about our spouse, our spouse shouldn’t be surprised by the tweet and wonder where that thought came from. Nor should you tweet or Facebook a perception that you are a spouse, child, believer that you are really not. Life is not fiction or fantasy.
(copyright Michael Catt, All Rights Reserved)
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.