A number of years ago, I was having a conversation with a friend who has a fairly substantial public ministry. We were discussing the issue of motives in ministry and the perception of opportunism among ministers. Knowing my own sinful heart and mixed motives within, I said to him, “I suppose it would simply be better not to use social media or to speak on conference circuits at all.” My friend wisely replied, “If God has given a man gifts and things to say to build up the church and to speak to a generation that is listening and that needs to hear solid teaching and preaching, why wouldn’t we seek to use our gifts as broadly as possible?”
That being said, I have observed a somewhat disturbing trend among ministers in recent years. If a man posts links to his own sermon audio, things about the church he pastors or to books, articles or posts that he has written then he is often painted by the social media police as being driven by self-aggrandizement, opportunism and desire for celebrity status. Judging the motives of others is an extremely spiritually unwise and unhealthy practice. The Scriptures say, “Let another mouth praise you and not yourself,” not “Let another man post links to your sermons, books and writings and not yourself.” We need to guard our hearts against sinfully judging the motives of those who do. In short, we must guard against setting ourselves up as self-appointed social media police.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones once voiced the opinion that audio recordings of sermons were a “peculiar and special abomination.” Ironically, if it weren’t for audio recordings we wouldn’t be able to listen to Lloyd-Jones sermons and to learn from one of the greatest preachers of the modern age. Additionally, if it hadn’t been for cassette tapes we wouldn’t have the enjoyment of hearing him make such a ridiculous comment in his 1969 Westminster Theological Seminary lectures on “Preaching and Preachers!” While I understand that Lloyd-Jones was seeking to highlight the primacy of “real presence” in preaching–and agree with him that the God ordained medium is the personal presence of a preacher interacting with a congregation by a monologue proclamation of the Gospel rather than a video or audio recording–I have to insist that to write off this medium wholesale as a “peculiar and special abomination” is shortsighted at best. Similarly, judging others for their use of social media is shortsighted at best as well.
There is an old man/new man (flesh/Spirit) principle that will most certainly help us move forward in a Christ-honoring way. The new man rejoices when the Gospel is proclaimed on social media–even when there is a suspicion that the persons motives are driven by pride. The old man disobeys Scripture and judges others motives in propagating truth on social media–before the time (1 Cor. 4:5).
The way forward is the way of constantly reminding ourselves of the following:
I need God’s grace in the Gospel to continue transforming my mind and heart to make me less judgmental of the motives of others. I need God’s grace to help me focus on my own motives. I need my own mind and heart renewed by the Scriptures and the Gospel. I need to ‘judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God’ (1 Cor. 4:5). I need love “to cover a multitude of sins” (Prov. 10:12). I need to be happy that others are preaching Christ even if it was with wrong motives (Phil. 1:18). I need to rejoice with those who rejoice–which means rejoicing when God uses others in greater or different ways than He seems to be using me (Romans 12:15). I need to remember that it is God’s grace that enables some to labor more abundantly–and in different settings–than others (1 Cor. 15:10). I need to realize that zeal is not coterminous with self-aggrandizing pride. I need to seek to remove what should appear like a log from my own eye before I seek to help remove what should appear only as a speck in the eye of my brother (Matt. 7:3).
Additionally, I would suggest that there are at least six reasons why ministers should continue to seek to use social media wisely:
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SOURCE: Feeding on Christ
Nicholas T. Batzig