O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings (empty chatter) and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge—by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith… (1 Timothy 6:20-21 NKJV)
See then that you walk circumspectly (carefully), not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-17 NKJV)
Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these
God will bring you into judgment (Ecclesiastes 11:9).
While reading the Word of God, do you ever find yourself falling asleep, feeling tired, or losing interest, but somehow you manage to be alert like a bird for hours when chatting online, watching YouTube videos, or checking out what people are up to on Facebook or Twitter? In this article, we would like to address the topic of Social Media, why it is addictive and how we should handle it in our walk with Christ. We will also explore whether social media promotes godliness or worldliness. This is a long article, but we encourage you to keep reading as you might find some materials here useful and enlightening, especially if you are a habitual user of social media and you are struggling to stop. Our motive is not to promote ourselves, but to point you to Jesus Christ and His Word, so that “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
Our definition of “Social Media” refers to websites, applications (or “apps”), and other forms of online communication which enable large groups of users to create, share, and exchange information while developing “virtual” relationships (both social and professional). Some of the most popular social networks include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and WhatsApp. We understand that there are many other social media sites out there, such as dating apps as well as other sites/apps where people can engage in gossip and other inappropriate activities. There is no doubt that with the explosion of knowledge and many people running to and fro (Daniel 12:4), new social media sites will continue to emerge and rise to the forefront in due time – the worst is yet to come! (2 Timothy 3:1-4).
First, we would like to acknowledge some of the positive aspects of social media. We understand that social media use is nowadays inevitable in many cases, as many schools, organizations, daycare centers, and even churches and other social groups are now using social media as a means to organize events and as a channel of communication for their members to connect with one other. Some people also use social media as a cost-effective method to promote their business ventures or social causes that they care about. Additionally, we also understand that many other useful websites and services allow one to access their accounts using one’s social media account, and the end result is that you cannot simply delete your social media account and walk away. Social media has also empowered the citizen journalist, who is armed only with a smartphone and a social media account, to record and share viral footage that led to criminals being apprehended, excessive use of force by people in authority (such as law enforcement officers) being exposed, etc. As such, the focus of this article is not to condemn social media usage or judge social media users, but to warn you about the dangers posed by social media abuse, misuse, and addiction, and to encourage you to exercise due care and due diligence when using social media tools. Solomon’s words of wisdom apply here: “Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, lest you be filled with it and vomit. It is not good to eat much honey; so to seek one’s own glory is not glory” (Proverbs 25:16, 27).
When we first wrote this article a few years ago, we didn’t realize how exponentially the number of social media users was growing. A few years ago, a pastor friend and his wife shared with us that based on their experience in Christian ministry counseling married couples, Facebook was cited as one of the primary reasons for divorce and separation in marriage. Since we have personally decided to heavily restrict our social media use (on a limited basis, we use LinkedIn to monitor potential future job opportunities and WhatsApp to keep in touch with family members overseas), we didn’t pay much attention to the societal impact of this new technology. However, we noticed that without using Facebook, for example, we missed a lot of news and important updates pertaining to family and friends. Currently, we are facing a dilemma regarding whether or not to join Facebook because one of our homeschool support groups decided a few months ago to start organizing activities exclusively on Facebook! In one shocking case, a friend called us frantically asking if we had checked on another mutual friend. Apparently, the mutual friend had been so stressed out that he/she posted a picture on Facebook insinuating that they were about to commit suicide! By God’s grace, my wife and I were able to use the traditional channels of communication to intervene and support the friend. A couple of times it was also revealed to us that some extended family members were badmouthing their family on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, using the kind of explicit language that their parents never taught them! So, whether we use it or not, like it or not, social impact has a direct or indirect impact on the vast majority of us wherever we are in the world.
In 2017, over 70% of internet users around the globe (about 2.5 billion people) were social media users and in 2019 it is estimated that this number will jump to around 2.8 billion! So, chances are very high that you are a social media user, and chances are too that you spend a good amount of time on a social media platform. Recent statistics also indicate that over a third of divorced couples cite Facebook as a reason for their split, and Facebook is the largest breeding ground ever for adultery and infidelity, not mentioning the other ills that are perpetrated there and on other social media sites. This trend, brothers and sisters, is not an accident, but a deliberate scheme engineered by Satan to make you captive! As we’ll see shortly, this is akin to a highly addictive and destructive drug that is wrecking havoc on society!
Signs of Social Media Addiction
There are several signs that can help you recognize whether you are a social media addict, but like most addicts, it is also easy to deny, downplay or justify your actions. If any or a few of the situations below apply to you, you are likely a habitual user (or addict) of social media.
- When you are not connected to the Internet, you spend a lot of time thinking about what you might be missing on social media, or you plan and ponder over what to share on social media. This might include going to extreme length to take a selfie or perform some act that you want your followers to see.
- When you are stressed out or going through personal issues, you turn to social media to try and forget about your problems.
- When your Internet is down or you are unable to use social media, your mind is troubled, you are restless, and feel like ” you are missing something”.
- When you realize that you are spending too much time on social media, but you fail every time you try to reduce your use of social media.
- When your productivity declines at work, home, or school, and you don’t seem to have enough time to spend with your family or friends, or get other things done, BUT somehow you find time to spend on social media.
- When you have increasingly strong feelings or urges over time to use social media, and you find yourself spending more and more time on social media.
- When you have your smartphone with you everywhere (even between your bedsheets), and every time you hear the notification sound of social media activity you immediately turn to have a look to see “what’s going on”.
- When you share something on social media and can’t wait to read what your followers or connections have to say, and you are especially thrilled, excited, and satisfied when you see emojis like hearts, smiles, LOLs, stars, thumbs-up, etc. that compliment your post.
Why are You Addicted to Social Media?
In late 2017, two former senior Facebook executives had this to say about the dangers of social media and its negative impact on people’s lives, and how it exploits a human “vulnerability”. What is a vulnerability? In the IT Security world, a “vulnerability” refers to a known weakness of an asset (or resource, or in this case you!) that can be exploited by one or more attackers (such as malicious hackers). The standard definition of vulnerability is “a weakness that allows a threat (potentially harmful occurrence) to cause harm. In other words, the attacker is successful in exploiting you because they know your weaknesses or issues – whether you are aware of them or blissfully ignorant. A well-known example is how Satan exploited Adam and Eve’s weaknesses and deceived them. What is troubling is that the same strategies that are used to exploit the weaknesses of man-made objects are now being used to exploit weakness in the human psyche or character.
We have underlined a few keywords from what these Facebook executives said in their own words:
“When Facebook was getting going, I had these people who would come up to me and they would say, ‘I’m not on social media.’ And I would say, ‘OK. You know, you will be.’ And then they would say, ‘No, no, no. I value my real-life interactions. I value the moment. I value presence. I value intimacy.’ And I would say,… ‘We’ll get you eventually.'” “I don’t know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying, because [of] the unintended consequences of a network when it grows to a billion or 2 billion people and … it literally changes your relationship with society, with each other … It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains. “”The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them,… was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?'” “And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you… more likes and comments.” “It’s a social-validation feedback loop… exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.” “The inventors, creators — it’s me, it’s Mark [Zuckerberg], it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people — understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.” ~ Sean Parker, Facebook’s first president, who joined the company in 2004 when it was less than a year old. November 9, 2017. Source: Axios.
“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works (referring to online interactions driven by “hearts, likes, thumbs-up”). “No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem — this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem…. So we are in a really bad state of affairs right now, in my opinion. It is eroding the core foundation of how people behave by and between each other. And I don’t have a good solution. My solution is I just don’t use these tools anymore. I haven’t for years.”” He further said doesn’t use social media because he “innately didn’t want to get programmed”. As for his children, “they’re not allowed” to use social media. ~ Chamath Palihapitiya, former Vice President of User Growth at Facebook (2005-2011), speaking on December 11, 2017 at a public discussion at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
We could stop right here, but we need to address the spiritual implications. As you can deduce from the comments above, social media is not simply an accidental creation, but a deliberate scheme and invention with a nefarious motive – to literally program you and change you, making you like a puppet being controlled by a puppeteer. It’s a tool that is exploiting your “vulnerability” (in this case a desire to be loved, appreciated, complimented, belong, not to be alone, etc.) to steal your time and finances, desensitize, weaken, and deaden/kill your conscience and spiritual sense, and eventually destroy relationships (friendships, marriages, etc.) in society (John 10:10). Social media gives you a false sense of identity/purpose/meaning that is punctuated by a false sense of acceptance and virtual admiration via emojis and emoticons. While it is true that a few individuals have made a fortune by exploiting social media, a vast majority of the users, billions if I can dare say, are being robbed every day and wasting an inordinate amount of time that would otherwise have been used for more productive work and building stronger interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships.
Although some social media and networking tools may be helpful in some ways (such as LinkedIn for job searching, and we certainly understand that some people responsibly use WhatsApp as a cost-effective channel to keep in touch with loved ones), we want to address some wrong patterns we have observed which do not promote spiritual growth and will hinder us as we strive to enter the narrow road which leads to life (Luke 13:24). The basic premise of social media platforms is that they empower the users to represent themselves, promote their personal image or express whatever is in their minds as they see or feel like – for better or for worse. As such, most people put up a fake front or façade that is different from their real identity in order to impress their target audience. Some exercise little self-control in expressing their frustrations and even wrongly accusing others. Other people who seek the false sense of security that social media provides may choose to freely air their dirty laundry in public, saying or doing things that they would not otherwise normally do. Either way, they forget that “…the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7) and that “God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
As we mentioned in the opening paragraph, this article is long, but still, this is not an exhaustive or comprehensive critique of social media! As you seek the Lord, He will “enlighten the eyes of your understanding, that you may know what is the hope of His calling” (Ephesians 1:18). If you are spending too much time on social media websites, we encourage you to prayerfully seek the Lord for discernment, guidance, and direction on what you need to do break this addictive habit, be delivered, and like the Church in Berea, “search the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things [are] so” (Acts 17:11).
Christians are Called to be Holy
As followers of Jesus Christ, we have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light, and we are expected by God to be holy (set apart for Him) and to proclaim His praises (1 Peter 2:9). Even though we are in this world, we are not of this world (John 15:19; 17:14-16); our hope is Heaven (Hebrews 11:13-16). We should therefore not follow the ways of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of our minds, that we may be able to test and discern God’s will for our lives – what is good, acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2). The Apostle Paul, in His letter to the Church in Ephesus, highlighted several responsibilities that we all have as Christians:
- To keep the unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3-6)
- To use our abilities for the church’s benefit (Ephesians 4:7-13)
- To keep growing and maturing (Ephesians 4:14, 15)
- To put away old, sinful ways (Ephesians 4:17-24; 5:2-14)
- To speak honestly and purely (Ephesians 4:25, 29)`
- To do what the Spirit leads us to do (Ephesians 4:30)
- To imitate God (Ephesians 5:1)
- To walk in love (Ephesians 5:2)
- To find out what is acceptable to the Lord (Ephesians 5:10)
- To make the most of our time (Ephesians 5:16)
- To be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)
- To submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21)
- To have marriages that honor God (Ephesians 5:22-33)
- To honor God in our families (Ephesians 6:1-4)
- To demonstrate integrity in the workplace (Ephesians 6:5-9)
- To stand strong against the forces of evil (Ephesians 6:10-18)
Additionally, in a sinful world like the one we live in today, we need spiritual support and encouragement of like-minded believers who can sharpen us and help keep us focused on the narrow road that leads to eternal life (Proverbs 27:17; Matthew 18:20; Hebrews 10:25). Does Social Media help you keep the Christian responsibilities highlighted in the points above? While is true that we might have a few like-minded believers in our circle of friends, it is highly unlikely that such connections can be forged in the social network. Even though the proliferation of social media networks has created many online “friends”, “followers” or approvers (“likes”) in the virtual world, this corresponds with the love of many growing cold in the real world (Matthew 24:12). Let us explore some of the pitfalls of this new media phenomenon.
Social Media Can Serve as a False Refuge
Many people run to social media as a way to seek peace and solace from their troubles – aloneness, loneliness, rejection, need for healing in the heart, need for approval, boredom, loss of a loved one, need for someone to love or love them, etc. For others, social media provides a channel for quick answers without the need to fast, pray and wait on the Lord. While these channels may bring a level of satisfaction, the answers are often short-lived and the void still remains in the heart. The truth is that social media can be a false refuge. Simply posting or reading a comment on Facebook or Twitter might not automatically bring the real answers that one needs. Flirting with someone on Facebook does not mean finding true love that leads to marriage and living “happily ever after”. Posting one’s work experience on LinkedIn does not automatically guarantee being offered a job.
The Bible is very clear that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1), and that “As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him” (Psalm 18:30). Even when in dire distress or oppression “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9). Furthermore, The Lord is a sure refuge when we are poor (Psalm 14:6), feel weak (Psalm 28:8), under attack (Psalm 31:2; 91:2; 94:22), despised (Psalm 71:7), afflicted (Jeremiah 16:19), in times of calamity (Psalm 57:1), or even when facing death (Psalm 18:1-6).
While many people are running to social media, there’s no safer place to run to than to the Lord’s presence, for He has promised that “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10).
Slander, Self-promotion, and Display of Bad Character
Nowadays, adults and young people alike are guilty of using social media for sinful purposes. Some children (young or grown) are living with their parents pretending to be sweet, kind, law-abiding and loving at home, but in social media they are using filthy language and profanity, portraying worldly lifestyles of partying and drunkenness, posting filthy images, using slanderous words, and exhibiting character that would shock their parents. Are we not called to put away falsehood (Ephesians 4:25)? No matter how old we are, we are still obligated to honor our parents (Deuteronomy 5:16; Matthew 15:4; 19:19). Young people are using these tools to speak ill of their parents who work very hard to provide for them. Spouses likewise are using these tools to vent to others about their marriage and/or children for comfort and to seek false refuge. We understand that people are not perfect and some parents are outright irresponsible, but how does it bring peace in the family to use social media to vent? Some people have used social media to crack jokes or done things that they thought were funny, but they were embarrassed or and even lost their jobs when the posts “went viral”. Unfortunately, whatever happens on social media ends up being replicated and copied to other sites, so that even when the person deletes the offensive content, it lives on elsewhere! Jesus had this to say:
“But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37)
The Bible warns us that in the last days: “men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God (2 Tim 3:2-4). Isn’t taking and posting countless “selfies” of yourself online tantamount to being a lover of self? Doesn’t social media promote pride, boasting, slander, rash behavior, and loving pleasure?
We encourage you to take your complaints to the Lord Jesus (Psalm 102:1-2;142:1-2). He is our true refuge (Psalm 9:9; 18:2; 18:30) and no one who takes refuge in Him will be condemned (Psalm 34:22). He said in this world we will have trouble, but to take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). We will have trials (James 1:2) and this is not a surprise or something strange (1 Peter 4:12), but God is faithful to help us overcome all our troubles as we call on Him (Psalm 27:5; 50:15; 86:7).
If you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ yet posting seductive pictures and using social media tools to promote yourself, how are you being light (Matthew 5:14)? Taking “selfies” that draw attention to yourself and your body or sharing pictures of worldly men and women does not help you be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). This is promoting worldliness and you may cause someone to have wrong thoughts and sin. Regarding this, the Bible says,” Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!” (Matthew 18:7). Therefore, we should aim to promote Christ.
Wasted Time and Derailed Priorities
There is a lot of peer pressure to conform to the patterns of this world and temptation to post pictures wearing a new outfit, your latest vacation, etc. (Romans 12:2). But just trying to find and edit the right picture to post alone takes a lot of time. And as for relationship building, some of the tools are not really helping because most people do not write meaningful personal notes; they just send pictures, videos, messages, and chain letters that take a lot of time to read or watch instead of having conversations that edify and build up in the Lord (Romans 14:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:11).
We have personally experienced how the devil uses some of these social media tools to waste and steal time we could have used to spend with God, get something on our schedule done, or prepare to be on time for something. Someone may plan to have prayer, worship, or Bible reading time at 8:30 PM for example, but the enemy through thoughts lures the person to go “check out” the latest comments or pictures people have posted, then talk about it, then respond to so and so, and the bunny trail continues. By the time they are done, they are tired, frustrated, needing to stay up later, either out of time, or have to rush their time with the Lord.
If you have been faced with a similar scheme, we implore you brethren, choose to seek God first (Matthew 6:33) and “look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16).
Strife and Gossip
Many people including Christians are the habit of using these tools to gossip and hurl abusive and hurtful words. Some Christians are using these tools to argue and win others over to their false Biblical teachings. However, we are called to speak words that heal and edify others (Proverbs 12:18) and “…the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful” (2 Timothy 2:24).
Furthermore, there has been much strife in marriage sometimes ending in divorce because some spouses have friends who are posting inappropriate pictures and are having inappropriate conversations with them. Instead of spouses enjoying peaceful marriages, joy is being stolen as spouses waste time arguing over pictures or chats with others and having unnecessary anxiety. To this, the Lord reiterates, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30; 18:8-9 NKJV).
What is Done in Darkness will be Exposed
The Bible clearly warns us that whatever we do in secret will be finally revealed (Luke 12:2; 8:17; 1 Corinthians 4:5); this will happen in the Day of Judgment for sure, but even in this world as well. We know that today’s website content is archived and replicated across several computer servers, and the records of whatever you write on social media are permanent. Many people are ignorantly leaving evidence of their wickedness for all to see, sooner or later. Worse, the Lord Himself sees and will bring you into account: “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment” (Matthew 12:36).
So, please be encouraged to walk in the light: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light (Ephesians 5:8-13 NKJV).
Other Dangers of Social Media
Why does the Bible warns us to be “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8)? For Christian youth, why does the Bible encourage you to “remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them”” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)? Because God loves you and wants you to be saved (John 3:16-17). Besides being “…passing pleasures of sin…” (Hebrews 11:25), social media pose other risks:
- Social media does not promote love. The Bible says that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Can all these truly be said of social media?
- Social media provides a treasure trove of information for Satan, the “…accuser of our brethren…” (Revelation 12:10), to use against you. The Lord promises forgiveness of sins when we repent (Isaiah 1:18; Luke 1:77; Acts 10:43), but whatever transgressions or indiscretions you commit in social media will remain in the minds of your readers and online, even long after you have repented. The enemy may attempt to use these records later to shame you and cast doubt about your character. The Bible admonishes us to use few words (Ecclesiastes 5:2).
- Cyber-bullying: While some people may go online seeking affirmation on their physical looks, others may encounter bullying and being despised. Still, some people use social media to attack, bully, slander or defame the characters of their perceived enemies.
- Identity theft: The more information you post online about yourself, the greater the chances that criminals will use that information against you.
- Loss of productivity: social media can be a total waste of time, time that you could otherwise use for seeking the Lord, doing school work, working, completing house chores or performing some other productive endeavors that would add value to you or someone else (Ecclesiastes 10:18; Proverbs 14:23; 19:15).
- Deception: Does social media truly help promote righteousness and truth? We beg to differ. As Christians, we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14; Ephesians 5:8) and we ought to share the Good News of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). We should not be idle or engage in gossip (1 Timothy 5:13), but be careful to see and walk in the light, following Jesus (John 8:12; Luke 11:34-35).
Overcoming Social Media Addiction
It is best to avoid being sucked into the social media trap. But how? First, you need to understand that “vulnerability” that is making you susceptible to social media influence. Are you lonely? Are you seeking attention? Are you discouraged or frustrated with someone or with life in general? Are you insecure? Are you doubting yourself? Are you suffering from low self-esteem? Are you questioning your self-worth or self-image? These are some of the vulnerabilities that Satan will exploit to attack you. As such, we need to pray for the Lord to renew and refresh our true identity in Him, “for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
Satan will try to desensitize your conscience and you may start with small sins and end up getting into bigger ones. You may also get into social media with good motives (such as to share the gospel with people) but end up being deceived or achieving wicked results. If you have a conflict with someone, it’s best to make peace with that person one on one, and follow Biblical wisdom for reconciliation first (Matthew 5:23-24; 18:15-17) instead of venting on social media. Put your hope and trust in God, rather than man, and you will be blessed (Jeremiah 17:7-8); trusting man only brings curses and problems (Jeremiah 17:5-6).
Likewise, if you are angry with someone, before you take your complaints to Twitter or slander the person on Facebook, the Bible admonishes us not to sin or let corrupt words go forth: “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers (Ephesians 4:26-27;29). This not only applies to verbal communication, but written communication as well, since wickedness ensues from the heart (Matthew 12:34; 15:18-19; Luke 6:45), as the Lord clearly states: “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things” (Matthew 12:35).
We should steadfastly guard our hearts and minds against the enemy’s thoughts and intentions to use us, as he did with Judas (John 13:2). How can we be on guard? By taking refuge in God’s Word and prayer: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
Furthermore, as Christian parents or guardians, we are called to “train up children in the way they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). So we have a responsibility to set a good example and also pay attention to our children and what they are doing that we may guide them properly (Proverbs 27:23). There are parents with troubled children, but they themselves are enslaved (addicted) to social media. We lead by example, and this behavior only encourages the children to keep on with it, sending the message it is appropriate and innocent. However, this may lead to possession of unwanted and troubling feelings and a seared conscience – a scheme of the enemy to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10).
We are not called to have “friendship with the world”, for this is “enmity against God” (James 4:4), but we are called to win the world for Christ (Proverbs 11:30; Acts 1:8). In order to overcome social media addiction, we need God’s guidance to help us limit our social media use or significantly reduce the amount of time wasted online.
Here are five strategies to help you overcome social media addiction:
- Perform digital detoxication – by faithfully fasting from social media and exercising not using your smartphone or smart tablet for several days (or use it only for emergency). Use this time to focus reading on the Word of God and praying for the Lord to renew your mind and spirit (Psalm 51:10; Philippians 2:5-11). In our experience, we have found it helpful to take breaks from certain social media tools or do fasts for some days or months. This helps to break our reliance on the tools and helps us gauge how much time we are wasting. It also helps us see that we are able to be more productive in other areas without those tools.
- Occupy yourself with activities that actually add value to your life and other people’s lives, so you won’t have much time left to waste. Jesus has given each and every one of us talents or minas, and He has commanded us to “engage in business” and be productively occupied – until we finally give account to Him on what we have done with these gifts when He returns (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:13).
- Seek true refuge in the Lord, instead of seeking false refuge in social media, for “the name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe and secure” (Proverbs 18:10). Additionally, we do not have to vent our feelings on social media, because the Word of God encouraged us to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-9 NKJV).
- Instead of turning to social media or World Wide Web for solace and consolation , use the time to meditate on “…whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8) and imitate the example of active and self-sacrifice life of the apostles so that “the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9).
- Exercise self-control. Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:23), and we should, therefore, exercise extreme restraint before rushing off to share or read material on social media that does not edify, for the Lord shall hold us accountable one day (Matthew 12:36). Social media also provides a false sense of security and control over oneself and others, but remember Jesus warned us to “judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matthew 7:1-2 NKJV).
The Race of Faith: Keep Running!
The Bible reminds us that:
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you (John 15:19).
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Hebrews 12:1-3).
In deciding whether or not to move forward with social media tools, we should prayerfully assess and ask questions such as these:
- Does my use of social media please the Lord?
- Is my use of social media helping me promote Christ?
- Does social media help me to fellowship and build meaningful relationships with others?
- Am I optimally doing good works, being a light of the world and the salt of the earth with social media?
- Am I bearing good fruit including love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control while using social media (Galatians 5:16-26)?
- Is my use of social media helping me enter and keep walking on the narrow road which leads to life (Matthew 7:14)?
If your answer to any of the above questions is “No”, then you are better off not using the relevant social media tool(s) and being deceived into sin and idolatry. Do not be ashamed or embarrassed if you are called names for choosing to sacrifice being on social media, and instead focusing to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”, for “all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). We can assure you that you are not missing much on social media, but you are investing in priceless eternal treasures (Matthew 6:20) when you choose to put God first, as Jesus Himself has promised:
“Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life (Mark 10:29-30 NKJV).
Furthermore, the Apostle Paul admonishes:
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore “come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)
In closing, is Social Media godly or worldly? You decide! Is it stealing your personal time with the Lord, limiting your progress in accomplishing other tasks and goals, and causing you to bear bad fruit? If so, please repent. If you would like to accept and follow Jesus Christ who is the True Refuge, please get started by praying this Prayer of Salvation. For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.
May the Lord give you grace and strength to overcome the schemes of the enemy!
Abes and Janet.