We all leave a ‘paper trail.’
Your cell phone carrier knows exactly where you’ve been in the last few weeks because everywhere you go your phone checks-in with the nearest cell phone tower. The crumpled receipts on the floorboard are a dead giveaway that you’ve had a McDonalds Chocolate-chip Frappe three times this week (“…but they’re so good!”). And your internet browser’s “history” has betrayed your trust, exposing the fact that you’re addicted to Words With Friends.
Facebook keeps track of all of your activity, which is a good thing for genuine Christians, eager to “examine [themselves] to see whether [they] are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5). Every status update, every picture you’ve ‘liked,’ every meme you’ve shared, every comment you’ve made, and every friend request you’ve ‘accepted’ – everything – is recorded. As social media increasingly becomes an integral part of our lives, reviewing this list gives Christians the special ability to do perform a fairly effective ‘heart check.’
Give this a try:
1. Log in to your Facebook account and, at the opening screen, go to your public profile (and happy birthday to PJ Charnock and the others I missed!).
2. Looking at the top of your public profile, click “account activity.”
3. When the “Activity Log” page loads, make sure you check “Include Only Me activity.”
4. You will see an endless list that looks like this:
This list will show you just about everything you’ve done on Facebook. When you scroll down, the list will go further into the history of your activity. Every search – every share – every like – every update – is conveniently catalogued.
Allow me to offer some questions you may want to ask yourself as you review your activity:
- Are your statuses mostly positive, or spiritual, in nature? Or does it seem like you are always negative or complaining about something? Paul wrote, “Set our minds on things above, not on things that are on the earth” (Col. 3:2). How do they compare with Colossians 4:6, which says, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt.” Are you thinking about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8)?
- Would you be comfortable with your spouse reviewing your activity log? What about one of the shepherds of your church?
- Judging only by your Facebook activity, do you spend more time thinking about politics or spirituality? I know many Christians who, on social media, seem much more concerned about the economy and the various injustices of a presidential administration than they are about the Church and their personal devotion to Christ. They seem more upset about taxes, socialism, or social injustice than they are about “the spiritual forces of evil” (Eph. 6:12). Are you more concerned about this present life, or the next?
- Does your account activity bring people closer to Christ, or repel people closer to worldly pursuits? Does that bikini picture that you ‘liked’ or shared draw people to Him? Does that crude word or coarse insinuation you made paint you as a strong Christian, or just another hypocrite?
- How much time are you spending on Facebook? How wisely are you using your time? “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16).
- Who have you searched for? Why did you look those people up? Were you searching for seductive photos, a weekend fling, something to gossip about? If you’re married, would you want your spouse to know you searched for those people?
- How are you treating people? Are you “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15)? Are you speaking about people behind their backs? How does your activity compare to James 3? Are talking to people like you would want them to talk to you (Matt. 7:12)?
- Are you glorifying the Church? Are you speaking positively about His Bride? Are you protecting the name of Christ? Remember, in all things, “strive to excel in building up the church” (1 Cor. 14:12).
Like it or not, social media is an inseparable part of our society, and Christians must use it for the Master. And argue with this all you want, but your online activity – at least to some degree – is a reflection of what’s going on in your heart. Take advantage of this opportunity! Become an even more effective servant of the Lord!