Rarely does a day go by when I don’t open Social Media and see tweets and posts from Christians that I read and wonder, “Did they even take a nanosecond to think what those who see or read this will think?” Posts like:
“I’ve never met such a hateful & cold-hearted person in my life.”
“You know how to put me in the worst mood possible.”
“I’ve put up with this [stuff] for too long. I’m tired of it.”
“The more you talk, the more convinced I become that pushing you down a set of stairs would solve a lot of problems.”
“I swear I want to choke slam some [people] sometimes.”
Now, before you start in on “What’s wrong with teenagers these days…” EVERY one of those posts were taken from Christian ADULTS Facebook and Twitter feeds – not kids. In fact, I even shudder sometimes when I read Facebook posts by PASTORS and Leaders.
I don’t know why it is this way – but, when something happens in life that irritates you or bothers you – you immediately take to Social Media and vent your frustration. Years ago people would use a diary for that. With a diary, you were able to write down your feelings, frustrations, and thoughts – but then you locked it and put it away where no one else would read. Now, many people take ZERO time to think before they post. Something happens, and they immediately pull out their phone and fire off their angry rant about their coworker, family member, or the government!
The sad thing is, I don’t think some Christians understand that when you post on social media – people form their perception of you (and often, their perception of Jesus Christ) from that post. You may have two or three of your close friends in mind when you post that rude statement, but there are hundreds of people who see it. Not only your friends, but friends of your friends who don’t know much about you – other than what you post. Some people need to cancel their Social Media accounts and just go buy a diary.
Here’s the sad truth – one of the biggest reasons the unchurched stay away from church is Christians who don’t talk (or post) like Christians – Christians whose faith hasn’t made it to their mouth – or their keyboard. A follower of Jesus Christ should sound different from the person who has no relationship with Jesus. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you should sound different:
- When you are angry
- When you are disappointed
- When you are treated unfairly
- When someone makes a mistake
- When someone sins or fails
- When you are talking about others
- When you respond to someone who is hurting
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, others should hear it in your words in any situation. If your relationship with Jesus Christ is genuine, it should affect your speech – and your posts. You should put much more thought into every word you speak and every word you type. Your words have power. When you open your mouth before you engage your brain, it leads to disaster. It can ruin your life – and the person who is the object of your words.
The Bible has a term for “Speaking Without Thinking.” It’s called “Careless Words.” Jesus addressed the subject of “careless words” in Matthew 12:36-37
Matt.12:36But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Your words are not “just words.” One day, you will stand before the Heavenly Father and give account for every word – even your careless words. On that day, what will your words reveal? Jesus said your words will either acquit you or condemn you. Which will it be?
James picked up where Jesus left off…
Jam.1:26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
Your unfiltered, careless words invalidate your faith. Those who listen to your unfiltered words and read what you post look at you and think, “Is that what it is to be a Christian? I don’t think so.” If we really understood this, how differently would we approach the words we type into that space and hit “post.”
I want to share with you some questions to ask yourself before you speak. It will serve as your filter for your words and help you to stop speaking before you THINK. If you stop, think, and run everything you are about to say, tweet, or post through this grid BEFORE you do it – it could save you and others a lot of harm. I must be honest with you. These questions are hanging in just about every Elementary School in America. There are posters to help your kids learn this concept. The schools may not realize it, but every single aspect of this grid is rooted in scripture. So, let’s use the word “T.H.I.N.K.” to help you install a filter on your words.
Here are several questions to ask before you post something on Social Media:
Is what I am about to post…
- If it isn’t true – don’t say it.
- If it’s only partially true, but it’s embellished so as to make you look good or important – don’t say it.
- If it is a technical truth, but the major portion of facts are left out so as not to incriminate you – don’t say it.
- Is what you are planning to say helpful to the listener? It may be true, but is it helpful?
- Some people make excuses for their gossip simply because it is true. Just because something is true doesn’t mean it is helpful.
- Your words can either build up or tear down.
- There are a lot of unfiltered words being spoken that are focused on tearing others down. Followers of Jesus should thoughtfully speak words that inspire others and build them up according to their needs.
- Imagine the perspectives you could change – the lives you could change – if you put more thought into the words you speak and tried to inspire those who would hear it.
- This might just be the first question you need to ask. Is it necessary? If not, it most likely would be best left unsaid.Prov. 10:19 When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.
- Ask, “Lord, do I need to keep quiet and not say anything?” If you aren’t sure whether what you are about to say is necessary, don’t say anything. Just be quiet. Hold your tongue. That makes you wise!
- Is what I am about to say harsh? Or, is it gentle and kind?
- Harsh, unfiltered words are always better left unsaid.
Listen, this is hard stuff. I understand. It’s been a life-long struggle for me. On my own, I can’t do it. On your own, you can’t do it.
Jam.3:7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
“No man can tame the tongue”. Do you know what that means? It means, “No man can tame the tongue.” This is not easy. You can’t do this by yourself. This is not an “I’m going to make a New Year’s resolution and never speak negatively again” kind of thing. This is not a “Pick up a tip from Dr. Phil or Oprah kind of thing.”
The Truth is: You need God’s help to filter your words – to help you THINK before you speak/post.
My prayer is – that my words – and your words will reveal a follower of Jesus Christ – one that others would hear and say, “I want to be a part of that.” This week, don’t let any unfiltered words come out of your mouth – or on your Facebook wall. In fact, T.H.I.N.K.hard this week. Use every conversation, every post, to “build others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”