The Tree Is Known by Its Social Media Fruit

Recently, someone told me that an individual’s Facebook posts have nothing to do with their spirituality. The discussion arose because we both know a man, elected to the position of deacon at his church, whose Facebook “likes” and “follows” consisted of pages of either obscene jokes and language or scantily clad women. To be fair, the primary purpose of most of the pages in mention was not to publish obscene language and scantily clad women. The overall theme of the pages was guns. But what goes along with guns in the eyes of the world? Women in bikinis that are three sizes too small for their ample bodies and the soldier’s favorite cuss word that can be used as an adjective, adverb, noun, and verb all in one sentence.

In this particular situation, once the man was made aware of the questionable content, he unliked and unfollowed everything. That’s wonderful. That was the right thing to do. But the person I was having the discussion with continued to push the point that it didn’t matter what things a person liked or posted on Facebook, and that it was not a reflection of their spiritual state. I beg to differ.

Be Holy, for I Am Holy

We live in a world so very different from that of the New Testament Christians, to be sure. Social media was not something the apostles had to deal with. True, there is no verse in the Bible that directly says, “Thou shalt not like any Facebook page with women in USA bikinis holding AR-15s.” But, what is the purpose of that photo? Is it to sell a bikini or even an AR-15? It may sound cliché, but would you share that photo with Christ? Or, how about posts with off-color bathroom humor? Again, would you share those jokes with your Creator? If not, then why share it with the rest of the world?

Christians are required to be holy, to be set apart from the rest of the world, whose father is the devil (John 8:44). Holiness is not an option. God commands us in 1 Thessalonians 4:7 to be pure in everything, to be holy. And there are many other verses in line with this that mandate how we as Christians should behave, in person or on social media. Here are just a few:

  • But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth (Col. 3:8).
  • Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving (Eph. 5:4).
  • Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:29).
  • Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry (Col. 3:5).
  • Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind (Rom. 12:2).
  • As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:14–16).

God demands holiness of His children. In fact, without it, “no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).

Out of the Abundance of the Heart the Mouth Speaks

What you like and what you post and what you share on social media really does matter. It is a reflection of who you are. Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil” (Matt. 12:34–35). Paul tells us in Romans 8:5, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” What comes out of your heart? What is your mind set on?

Now, of course, I’m not speaking of those particular posts of our family members and friends who do not profess Christ, which we can do nothing about. It’s akin to being at Christmas dinner when thrice-divorced Uncle Johnny brings his latest live-in girlfriend, or Cousin Jenny gets sloshed and starts singing bar songs. It’s analogous to being at the office where people are hanging around the water cooler gossiping, or your married colleagues are ogling the new twenty-four-year-old intern. While those things should embarrass us, and we should avoid them as much as humanly possible, we still live in a fallen world and cannot avoid every situation. So, in the same way, while we can’t control what Aunt Susie or our neighbor Mrs. Jenkins posts, we don’t have to share and like them. Sometimes, we can unfollow. But mostly, we just have to let them pass on by.

Abstain from Every Kind of Evil

On the other hand, we can control what we purposely like and follow. Have you taken a good look at your “likes” lately? Because along with your Facebook friends’ posts, those posts show up in your newsfeed as well, along with their associated photos and promotions. When you like something, your friends know you like it. When you share it, the world sees what your mind is set on. Can you say you are abstaining from every kind of evil (1 Thess. 5:22) and imitating God in everything you do (1 Cor. 11:1; Eph. 5:1), or do you have a carnal mind which is hostile to God (Rom. 8:7)? Do you regularly share posts that are filled with the world’s ideas of amusement and pleasure? Are these posts, pages, and people that you intentionally follow really worthy of the attention of the bride of Christ?

The Tree Is Known by Its Fruit

I read a sign once that said, “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” How does that question hold up for your Facebook persona? Because not only should people who claim to really know and love God have a disdain for worldly affections, they should be absolutely bursting with praise for Christ (and I don’t mean the “share this if you want God to send you a million bucks” or the “type ‘Amen’ if you love Jesus” posts—we are talking real, heartfelt praise here), and that praise should be clearly evident in a believer’s timeline.

Charles Spurgeon once said, “I will take it for granted that every believer . . . wants to be useful to Jesus. If they do not, I would question whether they could be a true believer in Christ.” Your Christian witness is so much more than just showing up at church, helping out in Sunday school, and slapping a fish symbol on the back of your car. Christianity should encompass your entire life. Is your zeal for Christ trending into every aspect of who you are?

Jesus Himself said, “The tree is known by its fruit” (Matt. 12:33). What kind of fruit is growing on your Facebook wall?

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