(or, Five [At Least] Things I Should Have Been Thinking But Wasn’t)

 The blessings of social media are very real. Even though I was late to the party, once involved, I realized quickly that there were whole new communities being formed. The opportunities for sharing His word and for encouraging others are phenomenal. But there are also dangers and obstacles that have hidden themselves amongst the baggage – and sometimes in plain view. But if we aren’t alert, we can even miss what’s right in front of us. So let me tell you a story about an idiot I know and about the lessons he learned (and relearned).

 Our story begins as a particular idiot (me) was reviewing the news feed on Facebook.  I noticed a post that a friend of mine had commented on a video. The title said something about what a high schooler had done every day during high school. Considering the particular friend who “commented,” I thought this must have something to do with religious freedom or something actually newsworthy like that. But what I failed to consider was the image in the video was of a fully clothed but tightly jeans–clad…umm…female posterior. (Thing I Should Be Thinking But Wasn’t #1: Don’t allow yourself to be so desensitized that you can’t identify the danger in front of you. Philippians 4:8-9)

 So I clicked the link, wondering what my friend could possibly have said. (Thing I Should Be Thinking But Wasn’t #2: Don’t follow even your friends down a rabbit hole, unless it is to rescue them and get out quickly. 1 Corinthians 10:12-14.) When I got there, the destination was a foreign–language preview of a crude, comedic movie, that had nothing to do with the original link. I was a bit baffled, and went on my way without giving the incident further consideration. Within a few moments, I had several friends inform me that I had an unsavory image and link newly placed on my timeline and they had received an update that I had commented on that link. Some followed the link as I had, others didn’t (kudos to you all that didn’t!).

 I thank God for those friends, because they allowed my lesson to be a bit less painful than it otherwise could have been. (Thing I Should Be Thinking But Wasn’t #3: Be thankful when God provides friends who are looking out for your good, and who genuinely want to see you walk well in the Lord. Proverbs 27:6). After verifying their cautions, I realized the gravity of my error. First, I had put myself in a dangerous position, by clicking on a link that could have brought temptation. (Thing I Should Be Thinking But Wasn’t #4: Don’t (unwittingly or otherwise) put yourself in a place where temptation lurks. Nothing good happens in that place. 1 Timothy 6:11) But perhaps even worse, I had invited a thousand of my closest friends to make the same mistake I had.  (Thing I Should Be Thinking But Wasn’t #5: We should encourage each other to walk well, rather than provide occasions for stumbling. Hebrews 10:24) Some did, some didn’t.

 Again, I am thankful to those who did not make the same mistake and who warned me, and I apologize – especially to those who followed me off of a cliff. Perhaps some may consider this a minor cliff (or not even a cliff at all), but as far as I am concerned, its not the size of the cliff that matters, it is the blindness of the one going over the cliff that is the issue here.

 So, our story ends with new lessons learned and old ones revisited – and that’s a good thing. But it also ends with potentially inestimable damage being done – and that is a horrible thing. We can’t estimate how harmful our “little” mistakes can be for ourselves or for others. I pray that I would not stumble, and that I would never be a cause of stumbling for anyone else.

 Social media is, in a way, like a sharp knife – it can be used to help us do our work efficiently, or it can be used to slit our throats. I suppose it all depends on how we use it and on what we are thinking at the time.