I was reminded the other day of the cartoon in which a man is huddled over his computer in his dressing grown, and calls out to his wife, ‘I can’t come to bed just yet darling; someone on the internet is wrong.’
The reason I mention this is because I’ve seen a number of examples in recent weeks of Christian leaders frankly disqualifying themselves in the way they speak to and about others. There seems to be a strange delight in being provocative, curt, uncharitable, and just plain rude. If we spoke to those we lead the way we speak online many of us would lose our jobs. So here’s a few verses that I think apply every bit as much to social media world as the real world:
- ‘a gentle answer turns away wrath; but a harsh word stirs up anger’ (Prov 15:1)
- ‘Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own’ (Prov 26:17)
- ‘the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.’ (Gal 5:22-23)
- ‘Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.’ (Eph 4:2-3)
- ‘Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.’ (Phil 4:5)
- ‘clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.’ (Col 3:12)
- ‘the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone’ (2 Tim 2:24)
- ‘slander no one, be peaceable and considerate, and always be gentle towards everyone (Titus 3:2)
- ‘the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit (Jam 3:17)
- and don’t forget those elder qualifications – temperate, self-controlled, respectable, gentle, not quarrelsome (1 Tim 3:2-3), upright, holy, and disciplined (Titus 1:8).
Now of course I don’t think that means we aren’t allowed to disagree, debate, and dialogue, but tone and context are everything, and I’m increasingly convinced that Facebook and Twitter aren’t the place. So can I gently encourage us all – leaders and role-models in particular – to let our gentleness be evident to all.
If you want to think more about this, one of our ministers here at Grace, Jon Putt, did an excellent five part series recently on how we use and engage social media – you can find it here: