Last year I did a series of blogs on what Scripture has to say about the power of the tongue. The cumulative weight of those verses is stunning. In today’s social media world, which allows us to publish comments to the world with the mere push of a button, more than ever we as God’s people need to read and meditate on Scripture, and examine our heart and habits. We need to be slower to anger and slower to speak, and quicker to hear and think biblically.
God says, “The tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21). Take a look through your Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter feed, and you’ll see that we as God’s people need discipleship to develop more godly technology habits.
I say this in my book Happiness:
There are valid reasons why unbelievers fear that becoming a Christian will result in their unhappiness. They’ve known—as many of us churchgoers have also known—professing Christians who go out of their way to promote misery, not gladness. I’ve seen Bible-believing, Christ-centered people post thoughts on a blog or on social media only to receive a string of hypercritical responses from people who wield Scripture verses like pickaxes, swiftly condemning the slightest hint of a viewpoint they consider suspicious. Others quickly join the fray, and soon it appears that no one has bothered to read what the blogger actually said. Responders assume the worst, not giving the benefit of the doubt and engaging in shotgun-style character assassination. If I were an unbeliever reading such responses, I certainly wouldn’t be drawn to the Christian faith.
I wonder why it’s not immediately recognized by those engaging in such behavior that what they’re doing is utterly contrary to the faith they profess and the Bible they believe. How is it that perpetual disdain, suspicion, unkindness, and hostility are seen as taking the spiritual high ground? Perhaps the message that Christians shouldn’t be happy has really been taken to heart! Hence, curmudgeon Christianity abounds.
That’s why I so appreciated an episode of Ask Pastor John titled, “Before You Tweet Criticism: Six Considerations.” What John Piper has to say is so good, and I can’t encourage you enough to listen to or read the whole thing.
Here are his six points:
1. Speak the truth.
“First, the very minimal expectation of our speech on social media should be that it is true — that is, factually true, biblically sound. …Now, I say that’s minimal, and the reason I stress that it is only minimal is that you can handle truth in ways that are sinful. Speaking truth doesn’t guarantee that you are speaking righteously or lovingly.”
2. Aim at Godward good.
“Am I aiming in my social media posts to help the person that I’m talking to or talking about know God better, trust God more, love people better, walk in less sin and more holiness?”
3. Know your audience.
“…what’s peculiar about this occasion called the Internet is that it is contextless. We don’t have any control over who or how or where or when a person reads what we have written. There are thousands of different settings, and emotional conditions, and levels of maturity, and states of spiritual height or depth, and immediate experiences, and on and on. In other words, we are unleashing our sentences into an unknown welter of occasions.”
4. Seek peace and pursue it.
“My fourth suggestion is that we measure what we say on social media by whether it communicates a heartfelt desire, not just that a person grow in their relation toward God, but that they realize we would like to have them as more unified with us than we presently are.”
5. Be slow to anger.
“Be slow to anger, slow to speak, because it’s very, very, very (I’ll say three and stop there: very, very, very) likely that your anger is not righteous, and mine isn’t either, and it will not produce the good you think it might.”
6. Let your treasure shine.
“Can people detect that your heart is deeply content in and satisfied by the beauty and worth and greatness of Jesus? That’s why we exist: to display Jesus Christ as the supreme treasure of the world. Do they taste that? Do they taste that when they read or listen to what we say?”