By Nikki Daniel
Facebook. Twitter. Blogs. Social media is a growing giant that allows users to be brave, outspoken, candid, and in some cases, anonymous. An interesting trend is using social media as a passive aggressive means to retaliate against others. The offended person feels safe and hidden while getting their anger out in the open. I am referring to tweets like, “SOME people need to learn how to be better listeners like my TRUE friends” or anonymous, argumentative blog comments. It’s even easy to use Scripture or Christian quotes as a passive aggressive way to confront someone. For example, you see a selfie of a buff Christian guy with his shirt off and change your Facebook status to “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” 1 Samuel 16:7, in hopes that “buff guy” will see it.
While the Scripture is true and your heart may be in the right place, is a public social media comment the best way to confront buff guy or the bad listener? The Bible tells us that it is not.
While speaking to his disciples, who were ordinary people like you and me, Jesus said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” Matthew 18:15-17.
So, according to this passage of Scripture, you should first determine if the issue is actually a sin. If so, confront your Christian brothers and sisters by simply telling them what they have done to sin against you. Simple. Personal. Private. What if he or she does not listen? Should you go on a Facebook rant in all caps? No, you should take one or two other Christians and talk to the person again. Simple. Personal. Private. If the person still does not want to reconcile and the situation is serious enough, take it to your church elders and go from there. Never once does the Bible say to go on the worldwide internet and hassle somebody.
One temptation that comes along with social media passive aggressiveness is giving yourself an easy escape. If you confront the offender directly as the Bible says, there’s no turning back if the person gets upset. However, if you passively confront them online, you can always pass it off as unrelated.
For whatever reason, people tend to get overly brave and outspoken on social media. The quiet mom that keeps her head down on Sunday mornings reposts a scathing article about moms who send their children to public school. Or the friendly Sunday school greeter anonymously curses at a blogger in the comment section of his latest post about the evils of living downtown. These people would never speak this way in person, but their hearts are revealed through the comfort of a closed office door.
Instead of passive aggression, try these suggestions:
1. Slow down. Pray until you can think rationally and fairly. Is this really something that needs to be confronted? Are you unnecessarily offended? Are you sure you understand what the person was trying to communicate? (“The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult” Proverbs 12:16. “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone” Philippians 4:4.)
2. If you feel that the person still needs to be confronted, think deeply about what to say and how to say it. Pray. Journal. Get counsel. Do not gossip or speak in anger, pride, or jealousy. (“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back” Proverbs 29:11.)
3. Go to the offender directly. (Matthew 18:15-17, reference above)
4. Be a good listener with an open mind and heart. (“Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” James 1:19.)
5. Be kind, not defensive. (“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” Proverbs 15:1.)
6. If things escalate, honor God by taking a break. Don’t let evil creep in to your conversation. The one needing the break is responsible for reinitiating conversation. (“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” Romans 12:21.)
7. Be ready to forgive. (“Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” Colossians 3:13.)
Let’s all strive to make our social media accounts reflect the wisdom of biblical confrontation rather than the ease of passive aggressiveness.
“A failed tweet displays Self. A successful tweet displays Christ.”-Ray Ortlund
(Reference for Ortlund quote: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/serving-up-tweets-an-interview-with-ray-ortlund-on-social-media)
Nikki Daniel is a pastor’s wife from Augusta, Georgia. Her husband has been the pastor at BereaBaptistChurch (www.bbcaugusta.org) for over ten years. She has two fun-loving boys, Noah Spurgeon (4) and Isaiah Newton (3). She enjoys working from home as a freelance writer and graphic designer. Nikki graduated with a BA in Advertising from the University of Houston and a MATS degree from Southern Seminary.
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