Lord, Teach Us How to Tweet: The Sarcastic Came to Him and He Began to Teach Them Saying…

 Photo by  Jason Howie

Photo by Jason Howie

Lord, Teach Us How to Tweet

I delete one-third of the posts I type on social media before I even share them. Why? Because, even after many years of following Jesus, I still get it wrong. Jesus said that out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34; 15:18-20). In the 21stcentury, out of the overflow of our heart our fingers tweet. I’m linked up to 3 different social media sites on my phone. At any point, what I think in my mind can instantly be transferred to my fingertips and shared. Admittedly, I delete posts before I even post them because I get it wrong. Too often, I find myself looking down at what I’ve typed and it’s useless, self-righteous, flippant, antagonistic, or self-serving. If you go check out my posts, you will likely conclude that I’ve gotten it wrong in the past. But I follow Jesus; I post, tweet, and share; and I want to get it right.

Because we post, tweet, and share daily, and because we spend even more time reading what others have tweeted, posted, and shared, we need to examine how we as Christians can engage our world through our social networks and how we can get it right. When speaking about a potential surgery, a doctor once told my wife, “A scalpel is merely a tool. In the hands of a slasher it is an instrument of death. In the hands of a surgeon, it is an instrument that heals and gives life.” Because Jesus is our Lord, Teacher, Shepherd, and Savior, we bring our activity on social media before Him for examination, leadership, and even redemption. This new series of blog posts on the use of social media (of which this is the first) is meant to examine how we might be surgeons instead of slashers—how to use it as a life-giving tool.

The Sarcastic Came to Him and He Began to Teach Them Saying…

We all have room to learn from Jesus on this. We have already established that our hearts will overflow into our social media posts. What’s your struggle? Unfortunately, I find that social media lends itself well to one of my all-time favorite vices: sarcasm. The 140 characters I’m given on Twitter is perfect for my love for crafting ironic observations of life and calling forth self-righteous ridicule from my heart.

Once, when asked about his excessive use of sarcasm, I had an 11th grade history teacher explain to us that he wasn’t sarcastic; he was merely being “facetious.” He went on to explain that sarcastic remarks are meant to ridicule and harm whereas facetious remarks are amusing, humorous, and otherwise jokey remarks not meant to be taken seriously. My decidedly sarcastic teacher taught me an excellent truth. There is a huge difference in intent between sarcasm and facetiousness, and intent matters.

I think social media is a great medium for humor. I love humor. I love being able to not take life or myself too seriously. I love when others can ironically observe life, poke fun at life, and even bring levity to serious situations. And I know that others share that joy. But love for humor does not supersede the need for examination of the motivations of the heart. The popular question of the 90s, “WWJD?” (What Would Jesus Do) doesn’t go far enough. Jesus examines not only our deeds but also the intentions and motivations of the heart, and He call us to conform our hearts after His. 

What’s in my heart? Am I being facetious? Is my tweet simply playful? Ironic? Humorous? 

Or is it sarcastic? Is it for the purpose of harm? Derision? Ridicule? Is it from an unloving, dismissive, or self-righteousness place within me? 

Love is the Antidote for Sarcasm

Jesus transforms our hearts and our tweets with love. The chief commands of Scripture are to love God and love people. In fact, in Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus commands His disciples to exchange their hatred of enemies for love. In doing so, they will truly be identified as belonging to God, their Father. In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul says that love for your neighbor, brother, or sister, is THE governing principle for making “personal decisions” about what one ought or ought not to do.   

 All who read this blog post will likely disagree about what we ought or ought not post on social media. We likely won’t have all the same opinions or convictions about social media. But here’s the bottom line: Love trumps all these. We don’t have the privilege of being hardhearted, unloving, or even being cavalier about our sarcasm. Whatever we post, tweet, or share, we must operate with love.