You know the type. You post something you think is fairly innocuous, and suddenly you get people slinging hateful comments like cow patties. As you read the shocking words, you heart drops, your hands tremble, and your whole body vibrates with anger. Words bubble up from a simmering cauldron you thought you’d taken off the fire years before, and the next thing you know, you’re typing furiously.
You attack. He spars. You’re in a full-blown fight with some Facebook friend you’ve never even met.
And then the dust settles, and you think…what did I just do?
I was in a situation just like this two week ago. I’m still embarrassed by what I said. Not that it wasn’t true. It just wasn’t necessary. Or God-honoring. Or kind.
The next morning, the Lord reminded me of James 1:19. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
I failed, but perusing Facebook lately, I see that I’m not alone. As our nation becomes more divided and as the political race heats up, people are choosing sides and attacking their opponents as if they were armed with clubs and spears instead of black dots on a white screen.
We’re fighting this battle like it’s ours to win or lose—which is contrary to what the Lord teaches in 2 Chronicles 20:15b: “The battle is not yours but God’s.”
We’re fighting this battle as if people are the enemy when Ephesians 6:12 clearly tells us our battle is “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
What truly breaks my heart is when I see Christians engaged in battle against other believers. I’m reminded of a speaker I heard nearly twenty years ago addressing the church. “We have an enemy, folks, and it is not us.”
Believers are not the enemy, even when they disagree with you. Even if you’re absolutely certain they’re wrong and you’re right—and aren’t we all? Truth is, we’re all wrong about lots of things. We are human, after all, and our understanding is limited.
Nonbelievers are not our enemy either. How can those who have never met the Truth know any better? God expects us to love the lost, not attack them.
So what’s the solution when you feel attacked on social media?
- Don’t fire off an answer immediately, but pause, let the wave of anger pass, and be thoughtful about what you want to say—if anything.
- If you feel the words someone typed on your page might offend others, delete the comment.
- Pray for wisdom, and pray for the person who offended you. Wait for the Lord to speak before you say or do anything.
- If you’re in the wrong, apologize.
- If you feel you must address something that someone else said, do so privately, as we’re instructed in Matthew 18:15.
- Have no expectation that the other person will agree with you or repent. If he does, rejoice and be reconciled. If he doesn’t, forgive and, if necessary, step away.
We believers must be very careful during these volatile times to behave in a Christ-like manner. I know how it feels to do this wrong. I’m thankful for God’s grace when I mess up, and it reminds me how important it is to extend that grace to others when they do.
Have you been tempted to get involved in arguments on social media? If so, how did it go? What do you do when you see something you disagree with on social media?
*All scriptures pasted from Bible Gateway.
Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, was recently named a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards and won the 2016 Bookstores Without Borders Lyra Award in the Women’s Fiction category. Its prequel, Chasing Amanda, is currently offered for free at all major retailers. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website, robinpatchen.com.