- Posted by Edith Ohaja
- On February 8, 2017
- 105 Comments
I read a post on a sister’s wall on Facebook and I was alarmed at the content. The post was complaining about something that some men do and insults were rained on such men. But this is not even a matter of one sex against another. It is quite distressing to read the posts of most people on social media, and it’s sad to say, believers’ too!
Colourful language seems to be the in thing. I’m adding a definition to avoid any misunderstanding of what I mean. This one is from Answers.com.
“Curses, scatilogical references, sexual references and general and imaginative insults.” Let me break it down: swearing and calling down destruction on others, references to excreta and excretory functions, references to genitals and sexual activity plus other forms of vulgar abuse.
But should we follow ungodly fads? Shouldn’t we rather be denouncing these things?
There is an empowering feeling that having a platform to air your views and followers to assent to them gives but you shouldn’t get carried away. You are first and foremost, a child of a king, and it’s not just any king but the King of kings! Don’t let the world think your Father didn’t train you or that you’re out of control.Colourful language is popular but believers should not be identified with it. Click To Tweet
Having a bunch of people applauding someone doesn’t necessarily make their conduct right and it’s pitiable when they are not even properly informed about what they are lambasting others for. There are over seven billion people in the world and hundreds of millions on some social media. Chances are that one can garner support on them for any point of view, however reprehensible.
We can disagree, argue and even reprove people without disrespecting them. Even though the temptation to speak carelessly is high because of physical and sometimes, emotional distance, we shouldn’t give in to it. I also realise there are trolls out there who bait and harass others but do we accomplish anything by descending to their level? You need to note that it is becoming fashionable to attack and ridicule Christians. One mention of God or the Bible in certain fora will have the missiles flying at you from every direction.
But if we are the redeemed of the Lord, we are not expected to pay back evil for evil. Rather, we should show meekness and forgiveness.
“See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:15
The Lord Jesus puts this in even more graphic terms:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” – Matthew 5:38-39.
It is a deception for anyone to think they are smarter than everyone else and that people who disagree with them are simply idiots. I apologise if anyone feels patronised or insulted by this. That is not my intention and these things need to be said because we’re constantly overreaching ourselves and leaving much room for error.
If you’ve read thus far and haven’t yet blocked me (which is the clichéd answer to the slightest cognitive dissonance on social media), I’d like to suggest some means we can use to maintain God-honouring interactions online.
(Related: My Testimony of Grace – based on an online disagreement)
5 WAYS TO MAINTAIN GOD-HONOURING COMMUNICATIONS ONLINE
1. Prayerfully decide how much time to spend online, the platforms to visit and the specific posts to engage with: Part of our Lord’s prayer says, “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” Matthew 6:13 (KJV)
One of our distinguishing characteristics as children of God is being led by Him.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” – Romans 8:14 (KJV)
We don’t act arbitrarily, we seek God’s counsel in whatever we do. If problems still arise, we know they are serving a purpose and God will probably glorify Himself or teach us something through them.
2. You don’t have to say something always: There may be things that you are truly concerned about; perhaps, have been praying and researching on; or you just have something you feel you can contribute to a discussion; then go ahead and say it. But do not feel compelled to jump into every discussion, especially when you know very little of the subject.
You can read the original post, possibly follow any link attached and read, at least, some of the previous comments before deciding if the discussion will be worth your time. You can do all the foregoing just to learn and you can react to some comments without necessarily saying anything yourself. It is a sign of exhibitionism if we can’t be somewhere without drawing attention to ourselves. We do that when we are children (“My toy is better than yours, our house is bigger than yours!”) but we can’t remain kids forever.
3. Check how beneficial your ideas are before offering them: Whether it’s your own post or a response to others’, endeavour to bless others in some way through what you share. The word “bless” doesn’t imply you must quote Bible verses or prophesy on people before you do so. For example, interjecting a joke in a heated discussion or presenting it alone is helpful. Most people appreciate a good laugh.
(Related: Grace and the Golden Rule)
4. Approach tense encounters with the Golden Rule in mind:
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 7:12
That means, be courteous to others and do your best to say things nicely. Even when you need to speak some hard words, end on a kind note. You can add a prayer or some good wishes, that sort of thing. And know when to get out. There’s no need to insist on having the last word. If the platform is yours, state and reiterate the ground rules for having difficult conversations and end them when you notice there’s nothing more to be gained, rather those involved are just slugging it out.
Some try to avoid contentions and disagreements, but these things will show up sooner or later. Even among believers, theological, denominational and political differences can result in heated exchanges. We just have to learn to treat each other nicely because there’s no escaping these kinds of situations.
5. Keep foul language out: It is a popular thing to use colourful language as I stated earlier, but did you know, your posts can still be interesting and hard-hitting without them? All you need is to build yourself in the art of delicate communication. You need a wider vocabulary. Also, foul language is cheap. I suggest you go for something more pricey.
Besides, respectable media do what they can to screen out expletives, although this is an uphill task online. If worldly media show any level of concern about this, how much more should we as children of God!There is nothing like maverick Christianity where you can do as you please. Click To Tweet
We are all subject to God’s standards revealed to us in His word, all of us who have been redeemed from the world. The way it was when men wrote on scrolls is the way it still is today because God and His ways do not change. Here are some of His stipulations that should guide our communications, including those we have online:
“But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” – Colossians 3:8 (KJV)
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” – Ephesians 4:29-31
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” – Colossians 4:6
And last but not the least, the words of our Lord Jesus Himself:
“But I say to you that … whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” – Matthew 5:22
We should always remember that the world is taking note of our conduct and judging whether it aligns with our profession of faith or not. In addition, younger believers are looking up to us. We should be the light of the world, not blend with the darkness, whether in our communications or behaviour. That way, we will bring glory, rather than reproach, to the name of our God.
Help me to clean up my language in line with Your word, oh Lord, and to be guided by Your Spirit in my interactions online so that I will not tarnish my image as a believer and dishonour Your name. This I pray, dear Lord, in Jesus’ name.
The scriptures in this post are from the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible except where otherwise stated.
Hi! Thanks for reading! I wecome your views on this matter and any further advice you may have for believers on their interactions online.
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