A man saw a friend named Fred. Fred had a bewildered look on his face. When the man asked Fred if he had a problem, Fred said, “I certainly do. I’ve misplaced my dictionary, and now I’m at a loss for words.” Being at a loss for words is not a problem for millions today. Words are everywhere. They fly off our tongues. And now, thanks to modern technology and social media, they fly off our thumbs! Our problem is not a loss of words. Our problem is that sometimes our words are not very wise and sometimes not very kind. And even worse for those who claim to be Christians, not very Christ-like. Three thousand years ago, the inspired wise man Solomon dished out some very straight talk about the way we talk (or write or post) in Proverbs 15:28 – “The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.” The implication is that if you don’t think about what you are about to say and how it ought to be said and how widely your words might be read, you will likely end up speaking or posting something that is “wicked” and “evil.” Earlier in the same chapter Solomon wrote, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness” (verses 1, 2). Strong’s Concordance defines the Hebrew word for “pours” (verse 2) and “pour” (vs 28) as meaning “to gush forth; to emit a foul odor; belch out, flowing, pour out, utter abundantly.” Was Solomon reading social media?! He wasn’t. And yet the wise man observed in his own day and time a problem that continues to plague contemporary culture – an unwise, unfiltered, unrestrained gushing forth and belching out of words –via tongues and technology. “Belch” is defined “to emit gas noisily from the stomach through the mouth.” A belch emits a foul, odious smell resulting in an odoriferous atmosphere! If you need help translating that, think about the last time you were near a big belch (your own or someone else’s)! Surely you get my drift! Who in their right mind wants to ingest that smell?!
Laura Akins spoke to the serious issue of the Christian’s use of social media in the October 2020 Christian Chronicle magazine (“This election, can we tame our digital tongues?”). She told of friends whose Facebook and Instagram posts gave her a sick feeling because they tend to drive friends apart. She wrote, “And Christians are no different. Sadly, many tear down their opponents with quick keyboard strokes on Saturday night and lift those same hands in worship on Sunday morning.” She quoted from Daniel Darling’s book “A Way With Words: Using Our Online Conversations For Good.” Darling asserts that many Christians are fueling online incivility. He cites Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” then adds, “And, we might say, in the power of the thumb.” Akins observes, “How quickly we use those thumbs to share our every thought.” My intent here is not to suggest that you disengage from technology. My aim is to remind Christians who engage on social media to “mind your manners.” Don’t be guilty of adding to the wicked, evil, irresponsible, foul things people say. Remember the words of the Holy Spirit in 1 Peter 4:11a – “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God.” If you call Jesus Lord, let Him be Lord over your social media posts. Don’t add fuel to the already over-heated fire of hatred. State your case. Seek to persuade others. But be Christ-like online, too. Remember, “Death and life are in the power of the thumb.”