Practicing Your Social Media Before Other People

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 6:1

In the original context of this verse Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees. They liked to make a big deal about all of the gifts that they gave to the poor. The motivation, Jesus said, was “in order to be seen by them”. It seems that they were more concerned about being seen as givers than actually meeting needs. Meeting needs was the means to achieve their end; namely, being praised by men.

I have to wonder, though, whether or not this verse says anything to us bloggers and social media users.

This is how I came to write this article. I was reading a book on worship ministry and one particular quote caught my attention. “That which is done in secret is what matters most.” (Boswell, 95) That quote got me to thinking about blogging and social media and how it relates to my own personal devotional time. I tend to write about what the Lord is doing in my life. It’s almost like a public journal. But is there a way in which I could share publicly what the Lord is doing privately to the detriment of my soul? Am I exchanging eternal rewards for temporary ones?

I agree with that little quote that what happens in private is the thing that matters most. For one, if I’m not consistently in private who I am in public then I’m just a flat out liar. What I write, tweet, and like on social media ought to be a reflection of who I actually am in private. If it isn’t then I’m well on the path to self-destruction.

But the path of the Pharisee, I believe, was a bit different. He was doing something which was actually good—giving to the poor—but doing it with terrible motives. His end was wrong. I will illustrate what I mean.

You just posted on social media, “Had an awesome quiet time today!”

Now that could mean a few different things. It might mean that you really didn’t even have a quiet time, or maybe you did and it wasn’t so awesome but you know that it’s supposed to be so you just lie about it. Or it could mean that you really did have an awesome devotional time and you want every to know it so they’ll realize what a spiritual giant you are. (That is the path of the Pharisee). Or maybe you did have a great time with the Lord and you want everyone to know it so that they’ll be encouraged and believe that God really does meet His children in the Word and prayer.

And if you are a blogger you cannot tell the state of your heart by whether you check stats or don’t check stats. Getting encouraged because something you say is retweeted is no sure sign that you are falling into the trap of the Pharisee. It might be that you are happy folks are encouraged by something you wrote. But then again, it might also mean that you are puffed up and full of yourself. You can a prideful non-stat looker, just as much as the guy who checks his stats 50 times per day.

At the end of the day it’s all about the heart and what is our motivation for posting what we do? And do I believe the gospel enough to actually pause and check my motivations? Do I trust that what the Bible says about the human heart is also true of my own? And do I agree with Jesus that every idle word matters?

There is a way we can blog and write and be vulnerable and share about what the Lord is doing in the privacy of our devotion which can rob us of eternal rewards. There is also a way in which we can authentically relate to the Lord and share with others about His greatness. I’m shooting for the latter, and repenting of the former.

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