23 “You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. 2 You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, (Exodus 23:1-2)
Few things have caused more division, more dissension, and more disunity than the “Like” and “Share” buttons on social media. We see a post about a politician we don’t like, and our first impulse is to pass it along. We may not know for sure if it’s true. We may not care. If it puts the politician in a negative light, it doesn’t seem to matter if it is malicious, unkind, untrue, scandalous, libelous, or hurtful. If it makes the person we disagree with or voted against look bad, we gleefully share it.
But for a Christ follower, it should matter. God’s Word is crystal clear on the topic. Do not spread a false report. Do not join hands with a wicked person to be a malicious witness. Christian, take note: every time you retweet or share what is specifically intended to malign someone else, you are literally joining hands in order to be a malicious witness.
You say, “But the other side’s positions on moral issues go against everything I believe.”
Fine. Don’t vote for them. Write to them. Urge them to change their minds on the legislation you are passionate about. They are responsible before God for their position.
You are responsible before God for your obedience to His word.
You say, “But what if it is true?” Well, then, you have some other criteria to help you evaluate whether or not to pass it along. For this, I always remember the acronym THINK:
T: Is it True?— we’ve already covered this, but let me emphasize: If you’ve ever started a post with “I don’t know if this is true or not, but if it is…” then you know it is wrong to share it.
H: Is it Helpful? Does it contribute to the conversation? Is it a unique, Christ-centered perspective? Or is it just one more voice in an already-crowded echo chamber?
I: Is it Inspiring? Paul’s words in Philippians 4:8 are worth memorizing here:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Philippians 4:8 ESV
N: Is it Necessary? Check your motivation for sharing what you are about to share. Is it to signal that you agree with what everyone else is saying? Is it to let people know how angry you are, or that you are in on the joke? Maybe a good test is this: if it has already been shared 15.2K times, does it need one more share from you?
K: Is it Kind?
Beloved, Jesus taught that our kindness should not be reserved only for those with whom we agree. In the Sermon on the Mount, He taught:
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[i] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? (Matthew 5:43-47)
And if you are trying to change someone’s mind or to confront a sinful behavior, remember two things: First, it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict. Not yours.
Second, it’s kindness that leads to repentance. (Romans 2:4). If you have someone specific in mind that you think needs to hear what you are sharing, then share it with just him or her. Or even better, talk to them about it over coffee. That you pay for.
We are in an election year, and although it is only February, already the rhetoric is heating up. It never really simmered down, did it? But as Christians, we are commanded to lower the temperature. To be ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:11-21) not promoters of dissension.
Now, allow me a moment of irony: Is there someone else that needs to hear this? Then share it.