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What’s motivating our online authenticity?

What’s the heart behind our sharing an embarrassing or ungodly or messy or raw moment on social media? Is it truly to offer, in a spirit of humility, an example of what it looks like to walk humbly before the eyes of God?

Or is it to garner likes and attention—to gain the eyeballs of man?

Probably both. Our motives will always be mixed in this life, until our hearts are rid of sin forever before the presence of Christ. But it’s struck me lately how disingenuous our messiness is if we’re using it for the wrong reasons, and often the wrong reasons can feel like gray areas, difficult to identify in human hearts that often desire both the glory of God and man.

Jesus warned his disciples of practicing their righteousness before people, to be seen by them (Matthew 6:1). He gives a few examples: giving, praying, and fasting. The same principle applies to our online sharing: Are we practicing our “righteousness” in the form of rawness and authenticity before others to be seen and praised by them? Is our authenticity an end in itself, or a means to a greater end?

As I’ve been off some social media, this searching question––What’s motivating my online authenticity?––has helped me consider the purpose of what I publish and why. Do I want to appear genuine to gain eyeballs, since people are drawn to that kind of personality? Or do I genuinely want people to love and treasure Jesus more as a result of whatever I publish?

Truly, the latter. Sometimes, the former. So I’m trying to sort out what this means going forward.

Jesus continues teaching his disciples in Matthew 6, and again, his Word applies to what’s motivating our online publishing (whether social media, blogs, or otherwise):

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (vv. 19-21, italics added)

What treasure are we seeking? Our greatest reward won’t be the eyeballs and praise of men, but the gaze and “well done” of Christ. How might this truth speak into what we publish, and how we do it?

Kristen Wetherell

Kristen Wetherell is a wife, mother, and writer. She is the author of Fight Your Fears: Trusting the Character and Promises of God When You Are Afraid (Bethany House) and the co-author of the award-winning book Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering (The Good Book Company).