Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com

If one enjoys drama and also likes a good bargain, social media is the way to go. There really is no need to pay huge monthly subscriptions to some dish or streaming service; you can watch people behave badly for free on X (Twitter) or Facebook all day every day and then tune in tomorrow for the next episode.

And some of the best “entertainment,” sadly, comes from people who should absolutely know better.

I was scrolling recently and saw something that made me really pleased. A preacher, likely in his early sixties, had just run his first marathon on a beautiful Saturday morning. That is a huge accomplishment and one to be much celebrated in light of the all-too-typical preacher condition that Elmer Fudd would call the waddling wevwend. But alas, not everyone was pleased. Another member of the clergy quickly posted something along the lines of “Bible-believing preachers used to spend Saturday fighting hell by knocking on doors to win people to Jesus, but now they apparently spend that day running Marathons. SMH.”

After all, 2 Bloviations 4:11 says, “Thou shalt go soul winning always and exclusively on Saturday.”

Social media seems to have unleashed the beast, as it were, when it comes to how people conduct themselves. And the worst part is they do not seem to realize what they are giving up by being rude in a public forum. Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” Maintaining a good name, even online, is worth more than clicks, likes, followers, retweets, or an entire mountain of gold. We have probably all failed at that at some point, but it ought to be something we labor at each and every day.

Here are some guidelines to do so.

One: Verify before you vilify. Proverbs 18:13 says, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” Whether you are dealing with a friend, foe, or devil in the flesh, carefully check and verify all relevant details before you post, share, or comment in any way that will vilify anyone.

Two: Message before you make war. Matthew 18:15 says, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” Recently, a guy dropped a few very ugly bombs on me, and I pretty quickly gave him his bombs back, plus a few more of my own that I thought he might need. It was HEATED. And no one else even knew about it because, to his credit, the bombs he dropped on me were sent in a private message, not in a public post. And because of that, after a few heated back and forths, we actually came to a very peaceable resolution on all of it.

Three: Look before you like. Ephesians 5:11 says, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Lots of times, people just want to be nice or polite, but what they are actually doing is violating both of these verses and reinforcing people in their sin. So take a look and compare the post with Scripture, and then never click “like” on anything that Jesus would not click like on.

Four: Delete before you debate. Proverbs 13:10 says, “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.” Yes, there will be a time, even online, to speak up against wickedness. That is not what I am dealing with here. What I am dealing with is the fact that you do not always have to take the bait to debate. Everyone is ten feet tall and bulletproof behind their keyboards; because of that, they feel very free to start arguments with people online. But most of the time, if you let yourself get dragged into it, you will find that exactly zero good comes from it. But there is a better way. When you are faced with a troll who clearly loves to start fights online, simply delete the comment and block the troll. Life is way more peaceful that way, and you don’t end up looking like a brawler thanks to someone else.

Five: Ponder before you post. Proverbs 10:19 says, “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.” Before you post any picture, comment, reel, or anything else, ask yourself, “Would Jesus push this button right now?” If he wouldn’t, you shouldn’t.

Six: Laugh before you lash out. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Lots of time, a situation online that could potentially be very heated and/or very damaging to your testimony can be dealt with simply by lightening up and laughing a bit – and here is the key – especially at yourself.

Seven: Build before you break. Jude 1:22 says, “And of some have compassion, making a difference.” The entire world is full of hurting, scared, uncertain people. And most all of them have social media. What an opportunity! You and I should try to never go a day without using social media to encourage people, lighten their loads, and give them the cheering section they need to keep trying.

Now, go build a good name online.

Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at 2knowhim@cbc-web.org, and his books are available by clicking the “Store” link above.

Feature photo by Karis Wagner