Bad Examples…Good Teachers?


Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16


Discerning when to speak and when to remain silent can be a real challenge in the realm of social media.

Sometimes, I am ashamed to say, I spend too much time on it. This almost always results in too much information for me to deal with. It seems I am reading as many full articles as I am short, social, posts. Sometimes, they disturb me because the logic behind them is flawed or they are not written from a biblical perspective, though the writer claims Christianity.

I get equally worked up when professing brothers and sisters in the Lord share horoscopes or a meme with Buddha in the corner. Why would we suggest to anyone that we approve of these heresies?

Over the years our social media sites have gone from purely frivolous, “Let’s stay in touch,” posts, to the in depth, “I need the world to know what I think about this,” posts. My own blog included.

I choose to do this reading, especially if I think the author of the article is someone who truly knows his/her topic. I have been truly edified by many of them. Others, I stop reading after a paragraph or two. There have been a few that I sought wise counsel about because I wasn’t sure about it.

I find I often rely on the “likes” of those I respect to point me to new sources. But, all humans are fallible. Therefore, I cannot just adopt new thinking because someone I respect, respects someone else (which is how I interpret a “share.”).

How often, I wonder, are we discerning about what we “like” or “share?” Some of these articles make one great point on an issue of the moment. Does that mean that the whole article is worthy of sharing with others? Sometimes it might.

The saying that, “a bad example can be a good teacher,” is more effective if those who read a liked or shared post know that the “liker” or “sharer” sees it that way. It may be foolish to put an article or post up for others to see and expect that, without explanation, they understand what we want them to see in it.

Social media has it all, good and evil, wise and unwise, fun and boring, godly and ungodly, even whimsical and downright scary. The more time spent perusing it all, the more time we spend on stuff that is not edifying or even all that entertaining. I fear, at least for myself, that I will lose the ability to discern the good and the excellent, the godly and wise, if I spend too much time learning from bad examples.

A prayer of the Psalmist that we may want to consider for ourselves; Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways (Psalm 119:37).

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