The late, great preacher Adrian Rogers once said, “Your reputation is your actions. Your character is your reactions.” Today, social media rewards reactions. The rawer the reaction, the more likes and shares you might get, giving rise to the popular term “Hot take.”
Unfortunately, the raw and rancorous reactions we see every day on social media are revealing major character flaws, even among Christians. How can we rise above this? Here’s three ideas:
- Wait. The Bible says, “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Prov. 29:20). The next time a hot topic arises, or breaking news happens, just wait. Don’t chime in the minute you think of something. Just mull over what you want to say. Then later, come back to it to see if you still want to comment or what you want to say.
- Withhold. The prevailing thought on social media is “silence is agreement.” If you do not immediately comment on every given issue, you are somehow viewed as complicit. The Bible, meanwhile, teaches us there is “a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Eccl. 3:7). Moreover, the Bible praises a person who learns to hold his or her tongue (Prov. 21:23). If you simply do not comment on every issue that comes up online, the World Wide Web will go on. It’s sometimes okay to withhold from reacting.
- Swap. If your reactions are revealing a character weakness, God can help you replace that original emotive reaction with wisdom. Ask Him to change your heart; ask Him to give you wisdom where weakness now resides. If we learn from Jesus, we will learn to take everything to the LORD in prayer.
With the 2020 elections looming, the raucous social media discussion is likely to get worse, not get better. That means if our reactions in the coming months are marked by wisdom, not weaker impulses, the world may just notice the difference in us. People may see that Christ is Lord over all, even our reactions.