A few months ago I wrote a post called Love and Social Media: My Guidelines. In that post I addressed more of the “how” behind my guidelines for posting on social media: posting everything in love. I touched on the fact that I hold myself accountable for sharing truth, but I didn’t really dive into the details of what that means and how I gauge that. So, that’s what I’m sharing here.
Love and truth are equally important in this online sphere. Truth spoken without love can cause damage and cause people to unnecessarily turn away from it. But not being faithful to truth in the name of love isn’t really love at all, and in the end will cause great harm. We’ll be held accountable to both, because we are called to both as followers of Christ. God is love and truth, and they cannot be separated from each other.
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8
“And Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” John 14:6
I am still learning and growing, and certainly don’t share truth (in love) perfectly. But as I’ve sought the Lord in this area, He has been so faithful to lead and guide me and keep a tight rein on my tongue (and fingers) in this realm.
All that to say, here are four ways I seek to hold myself accountable to speaking truth on social media.
1. Share in accordance with ALL of Scripture
Have you ever been reading a passage of scripture or pondering some aspect of creation and had a “revelation?” By revelation, I mean a thought that strikes you that you’d never really considered before? They feel like “lightbulb” moments, and I get an urge to share it with others. But: I’ve learned that it’s absolutely critical to make sure that that thought is backed up by all of Scripture, not just what my particular interpretation might be in that moment.
Here’s an example. Several years ago I took a hermeneutics class, and our teacher shared about a lady who was trying to find an excuse to divorce her husband. She turned to the verse that says, “put off… the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts…” (Ephesians 4:22KJV). Now, if you look at the passage, it doesn’t take long to realize just how crazy and out of context that is. And although this is a far-out example, the significance behind it has always stuck with me.
2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
I’ll be held accountable for how I handled the “word of truth.” And I don’t want to lead others astray by my lack of careful study and consideration of all of God’s Word.
2. Seek Wise Counsel
Most of what I write is reviewed by others before it is put out into the world. And I choose to share it specifically with those who I know will hold me accountable to writing what is true, not just with people who will go along with everything I say. Sometimes it carries a bit of a sting when they “edit” my words, but it is so worth it to have the confidence that what I’m sharing is going to align with God’s Word.
Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
Judah and I have put this into practice not only in what we write, but in many areas of life. It has kept us from doing and saying things we might regret, and it’s given us more confidence in the things that are right to do and say because it is backed up by other godly, wise people.
I would encourage you to put this into practice, too. It’s a little nerve-wracking at first, but it’s so, so worth it.
3. Creativity must never trump truth
It’s tempting as a writer to allow creativity and beauty to take precedence over saying what is true. I’ve sadly seen this over and over again, whether in books or blogs or instagram posts or songs… Creative license is taken, and it ends up warping truth for the sake of artistry.
At the end of the day, it is far better to have simple words spoken in truth than beautified words that might lead others astray. God will hold us accountable for the words we use, and I so desire my words to be full of purity, not leading anyone astray.
Proverbs 12:19 says, “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.”
We may not be trying to lie with our tongue. But it’s possible to speak words genuinely and sincerely and beautifully that aren’t actually true. This is where we need to continually humble ourselves before the Word of God, willing to stay quiet if we’re not exactly sure if our words are fully truthful.
4. When in Doubt, Don’t
I’ve had a number of social media posts or comments I’ve been thiiiiiiiiiis close to sending into the world, but get a check in my spirit about before I click the button. And when I don’t have time right then and there to open up my Bible or run it by a wise person, I choose not to post it at all. I’ve learned it never hurts to wait if I’m not sure it’s exactly right, and I’ve regretted it every time I’ve chosen to publish it anyway.
Proverbs 17:28 says, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips he is deemed intelligent.”
Now, just because we choose not to speak doesn’t mean we’re necessarily wise. But this verse is illustrating a point: being slow to speak is a character trait usually seen in people who are wise. It’s far better to say a few truth-filled words than many words that are laden with error. We live in a world full of information and access to the latest stories within seconds, and there’s the ability for everyone to chime in. Along with that, there’s often the pressure to join in. But unless we are sure that what we’re saying is going to be aligned with truth and that we have the facts straight, it’s ok not to say anything at all.
[Note: This shouldn’t ever be used as an excuse not to speak truth when we know we should. When we have clarity on an issue and are simply afraid of what others might say (yes, I’ve been there), we need to do so with boldness. God will give us grace to do so.]
Ultimately, it’s only by God’s grace that any of us can speak words that are full of truth consistently. It requires humbling ourselves before His Word, repenting when we realize we’ve bought into ideas that aren’t true (and being willing to make that right if we’ve shared it with others), and standing firm when the world scoffs and says “What is truth?” just as Pilate did to Jesus when Jesus declared Himself as the Truth (John 18:38).
What a privilege we have to proclaim Jesus – the Way, Truth, and Life – to this world. May we do so faithfully.
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