This article is part of the Reactivity: Rethinking Social Media with Paul Tripp series.
In this episode, Paul Tripp talks about the differences between a culture of condemnation and a culture of redemption, and he makes an honest confession.
I have a confession to make. In the last several years, few things have reminded me of my need for God’s grace than my interaction with social media. Here’s the confession: I get riled up. I get angry. I want to strike back. I want to defend my reputation. It hurts when someone says something disrespectful to me. It hurts when I’m canceled for no reason. And it’s reminded me that I need the restraining power of God’s grace in my life every single moment of my life. And I’m thankful that through this crazy culture that we’ve been talking about, God has produced in me a deeper love for, a deeper hunger for, and a deeper celebration for his grace.
We wouldn’t be having this conversation about the culture of toxic reactivity and its power to not only shape our reactions and interactions on social media but in our everyday lives if there wasn’t something attractive to us about this culture. What you have to confess, and this is hard, is it’s only ever the sin inside of me that hooks me to the evil outside of me. And so I have to understand that my attraction to this toxic culture is because there’s something still broken inside of me. There’s something that loves anger, loves meeting out vengeance, loves self-righteous condemnation. Those instincts are still inside of me. I’m not free of them yet. By God’s grace, I will be someday, but the war for my heart still continues, and it does for yours too.
And so we need that rescuing grace.
I think one of the most beautiful aspects of the gospel is that between the already of my conversion and the not yet of my home-going, God doesn’t give me just a list of directives. His greatest gift is himself. This is one place where the giver is the gift. And so God says, Paul, I know what I’ve called you to. There’s no way you’re going to be able to do it unless I am with you always. And the way that I’m going to be with you always is I’m going to make you the place where I dwell. So there’s never a moment in your life, Paul, where you’re left just to your own wisdom, your own strength, your own righteousness, because I am in you. Like what the apostle Paul says, “It’s no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me.” That’s just incredible to think about. And so we have help to stand against this culture. We’re not left with just these impossible commands and the compelling temptation around us, because God has inhabited us by his grace and he comes with the full range of his power.
The culture of toxic reactivity is a culture without redemption. You blow it, you’re done. It’s a culture of condemnation. Grace sets a culture of redemption—the belief that there’s no sin that lives outside of the reach of God’s grace, there’s no person so lost that they’re outside of the reach of God’s grace. So, to respond with grace means I want to be a tool of help in God’s hands. I want to be a tool of correction where correction is needed, a tool of encouragement where encouragement is needed, a tool of hope where hope is needed, an instrument of transformation. Now, that requires patience, listening well, kindness, gentleness, respect, self-control. Those are the attitudes and actions of grace. They are a definition of grace themselves, and they are only possible through the power that God’s grace gives us.
I want to thank you for traveling this journey with us. Our look at the culture of toxic reactivity isn’t meant to leave you negative and hopeless, because we’ve also talked about the beauty of God’s grace. God doesn’t leave us on our own. In Christ, we have the potential–you have the potential–to do better. Jesus died so that I would be a person of joy, a person of love, a person of kindness and faithfulness and gentleness and self-control. Those are our potential in Christ. And he lived a righteous life and died a substitutionary death and rose again, conquering sin and death, so that we would have that potential. And he gifted us with his Spirit so we would have the power to say no and to move in an entirely different direction. You can do that because of his grace.
Let’s pray. Thank you, Lord, that your word looks at the dust and dirt and blood of a fallen world, but never leaves us helpless, never leaves us hopeless, but infuses us with hope and with joy because you have invaded this world by your grace, and you empower us by your grace to live in a way better way than we would ever live on our own. A way that doesn’t bring divisiveness and destruction and death, but brings unity and help and life. Thank you. Thank you that you have given us the gift of yourself. We love you, and we are so thankful that we’ve been loved by you. In your sweet and strong name we pray, amen.
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