In April of 2017, Starbucks created a buzz on social media by introducing their newest beverage, the Unicorn Frappuccino. This frozen, purple-and-pink monstrosity generated a viral response on platforms like Instagram, where almost 155,000 pictures and videos were posted. Good, bad, or ugly, the buzz was there and the frenzy to buy the pastel-colored drink was real. It was available for one week only, and traffic in the Starbucks stores exploded over it.
Social media is powerful and prevalent in our culture these days. It’s also ruthless and cruel at times. The smallest of molehills can become a mountain, and the seemingly mundane can turn viral. Whether the topic of the day is food, movies, or politics, it appears that everyone has an opinion—and a very strong one at that!
Yet for believers in Christ, we need to be careful of not only what we share, but how we share. Tone matters, and testimonies matter even more. This truth is the essence of 1 Timothy 4:11–13. In fact, Paul gave guidance that all believers should follow in 1 Timothy 4:12: “Don’t let anyone despise your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.”
This is not just a teaching for a young leader in the church but for all believers. The example that we set for others helps others. And while our testimony is tested in the age of social media, there is an important underlying principle that we should follow in all we do: that we need to watch our talk, our walk, our deeds, our faithfulness, and our holiness. All these principles matter to people, and most importantly, to God.
How can you watch your tone on social media and be a blessing to others? Here are three words of advice:
- Be genuine. Discernment is needed as to how much to share, but authenticity is a breath of fresh air on social media. For example, avoid creating a persona that only exists in the virtual world. Be yourself, yet be sensible about sharing things that might present a stumbling block for others to hear the gospel.
- Be gracious. Grace is not always seen in places like Twitter. However, grace is sorely needed. Ever see a social media conflict between two people that escalates? That almost never goes well. Instead, recognize that we are all sinners, blinded by our brokenness, and that Proverbs 15:1 offers important wisdom: “A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.”
- Be good. In an environment of so much negativity and hatred, positive people are difficult to find, but they are there. Ranting or venting is neither helpful nor biblical, especially if it’s about another person’s conduct or teaching. It is more constructive to build up others, so take any serious concerns privately to the person involved and love them in the process. This is the proper and good thing to do.
Again, tone matters, and testimonies matter even more. This is the goal of our faith: to love God and people, to share His love to the world, and to glorify Him by living a life pleasing to Him. May God use our walk in Him to bring many to His Kingdom!
Dr. Fran Trascritti (@frantras) is a husband, father, and grandfather, but most of all, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. He pastored various churches for over 23 years and now serves with the Explore the Bible team at Lifeway. You can reach him by emailing Fran.Trascritti@Lifeway.com