“Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.” – Proverbs 2:11
When we read the Bible, we can apply it to all aspects of life. That includes our online lives, especially how and when we process emotions or post reactions online. Whether the cause of those emotions are political, mental health, geopolitical events, loss of people we love, or difficult relationships, we can find ways to change how those emotions are expressed online with other people. And King Hezekiah’s difficult interaction with the Assyrian field commander, the Rabshakeh, in 2 Kings 18 is a perfect illustration.
David Guzik’s commentary on 2 Kings 18:28-35 breaks down the Rabshakeh’s speech into seven points of what he intended to do. Four of those points are very applicable to social media.
- “The Rabshakeh’s speech was intended to glorify the enemy facing God’s people.” Does your post or reply glorify what God does not like? God doesn’t agree with everything I do or say. If I think He is always in agreement with me, I need to kneel before Him and ask Him to reveal the things in me that should be removed. Believing I am always in the right of things gives birth to pride and ego, and when we are online, it makes us all “experts.” My prayer constantly is, “Lead me not into temptation” from Matthew 6:13. Don’t glorify what He has said not to do or be. If you question what pleases God, begin by reading the Bible. Pause before you post. Will your post on social media help someone walk with Christ, or will it drive them farther away?
- The Rabshakeh’s speech was intended to make God’s people doubt their leaders.” Does your post or reply draw people away from actively participating in their local churches? Recently, a survey came across my newsfeed about people in the United States that have a growing distrust of pastors. There is also an increasing number of “nones” in our country—people who won’t go to church. In the early days of blogging, a movement began of people unhappy with church, and they thought they were doing ministry by sharing their testimony and being authentic. Over the years, those small heart-felt whispers were amplified, championed by media whose motivations were to tear down local churches. Non-believers and nones are listening. They will only read the headlines, not the context of your statement, believing what fits their narrative because that’s easier than making changes. We need to consider that. And on a related note, we need to return to resolving our differences within our church families rather than on social media.
- “The Rabshakeh’s speech was intended to build fear and unbelief in God’s people.” Does your post or reply build fear and unbelief in God’s people? 1 Timothy 1:6-7 (MSG) says, “Some teachers have missed the whole point. They’ve turned away from the command to love and spend their time arguing over useless discussions. They want to be teachers, but they do not even know what they’re talking about or confidently affirm.” Frame this with a social media emphasis: They’ve turned away from the command to love and instead invest copious amounts of time arguing over useless discussions. In 2 Kings 18:26, Eliakim asks the field commander, the Rabshakeh, to speak in Aramaic instead of Hebrew. What we say in public can discourage people if we are not careful to take into consideration the needs of others.
- “The Rabshakeh’s speech was intended to make surrender an attractive option.” As you process your emotions online, are you making it easy for someone to walk away from God, to give up, to surrender to the sins in their own lives, to give in to temptation?
In 2 Kings 18:36, Hezekiah’s command to the people, a command he himself kept, was to not answer Rabshakeh and instead remain silent in the face of what they were hearing. Proverbs 21:23 says “Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.” Silence as a response is often wiser than pounding out a reply that might cause more harm. 2 Kings 18:19 was to provoke a reaction. The good news is that we don’t have to respond at all to those set against us. That’s a hard lesson to learn and an even harder lesson to execute.
How to process your emotions online productively.
Whether or not you are a leader, if you are online, you have influence. Social media puts you in the position of teacher or leader, giving you a platform. Be humble enough to admit when you are wrong and use the platform, remembering the caution from James 3:1, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” Online, we have the potential for a worldwide audience. What are we teaching?
Consider the following tips:
- Focus on how your words can describe what God is doing in your life. Describe what you are going through without slandering people or hurting other causes in your anger. I suggest posting in a way that invites people to pray for you, speak the truth in your life, and help redirect you to the Scripture you need to hear. Don’t “Campaign” by seeking to overshare your story to get people on your side. There’s a difference between “emotional vomiting” and using social media to let your church family minister to you in your time of grief or pain.
- Romans 12:18 urges us to, if at all possible, as far as it depends on us, live at peace with everyone. Seek to resolve issues. Seek to honor others above yourself. Seek to deescalate.
- Silence is not weakness. Turn to others you trust to help you with overwhelming situations. Do not give in to the temptation to lash out, hurt others, slander, or encourage sinful behavior. Maybe you’ve heard the saying “hurt people hurt people.” Honestly, it’s not about how loud you can shout your hurt, it’s about finding ways to heal and draw closer to God while listening to Him in how you should pursue a resolution to the situation. Trust Him to fight your battles, and don’t accidentally be used by the enemy.
Lastly, when we walk in line with God’s desire for us, we should expect to be criticized. So let’s not get tricked into undercutting what God is doing through us by responding to criticism in ungodly ways. People measure our behavior in-person AND online. Stay the course God has set out for you, and be faithful to Him and His calling for you – in person and online.
And remember… there is such a thing as DM’s. You know, direct messages! Not everything needs to be posted in public. Let trusted members of your church family speak into your life, and let them help you process those emotions when life gets hard BEFORE you emotionally vomit on everyone else online.
We have a saying at WorldVenture: Billions don’t know Jesus and we’re not okay with that… well, I like to remind everyone that we have access to them online. So, let’s use our social media in ways that glorify God and what He likes, that point people in His direction, that don’t build fear in others, and that don’t make it easy for others to walk away from Him.
Social Media Challenge:
Starting this week, pick three friends or followers on your social media each week to text, private message or DM, send an email, or thoughtfully add a comment to their post. While doing this, ask God to help you walk someone through their emotions.