Taming the Tongue on Social Media

Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. (James 3:4).

Our boat circa 1995

I was watching my Twitter follow count the last few days. Surprisingly, I was nearing 1,000 followers. That isn’t a lot, but it’s a lot to me. 1,000 is a new and exciting level.

I have two blogs, mirrored on two platforms, (Blogger and WordPress) so that means 4 blogs. The End Time which is this one, with Christian content, and The Quiet Life, about art, crafting, cooking, etc. I’ve got Twitter. I have an Instagram account with a minimal amount of followers. I have two Facebook pages, one called The End Time and the other is the personal one. I have a GoodReads account. I use email. I text to my GroupMe church and sundry church small groups. I have a Pinterest account. I have a Disqus commenting account.

I’ve learned modern terms like ‘reach’ and ‘impressions.’ I have ‘stats’.

Some years ago John MacArthur said that he has never worried about his reach (influence). He focused on the depth and knew the Spirit would take care of the reach.

I was concerned from the very beginning about the depth of my ministry, and I said if I take care of the depth of my ministry, I can leave the breadth of it to God. You know, if it’s something He can use, then He’ll take it where He wants it to go. So I’ve never done anything to take it anywhere.

I took his words to heart and I’ve never done anything overt to push any of my social media. I’ve had The End Time blog for 9 1/2 years and The Quiet Life for 12. I don’t do SEO, I don’t request friends to go look at it, I don’t concentrate on the statistics. I know that the Spirit will put whatever He wants of what I write in front of whom He wants to. I’ll write a little PS to this thought I’ll add at the bottom, though.

I listened to a good sermon this week, twice. We all have a God-given desire to communicate, said Chris Hamilton in his sermon Taming the Tongue on Social Media. We want to be heard.

He said that until recently the opinion making and influence reach was in the hands of a very few people. I remember that time before the internet distinctly. Prior to the internet the Average Joe or Jane remained obscure all his or her life. The only times someone would be guaranteed to get into the paper was when they were born, married, or died. Sometimes your name went into the paper if you went to jail, or were derelict in paying property taxes. That’s it. Opining on the culture wars of the day, publishing books or poetry, presenting your photography portfolio, announcing things on television, wase left to others, a very few others. Cut to today:

The agenda of public thought and discourse is no longer set by a few people in the news networks [and newspapers]. It’s set by just about anyone, such as wannabe celebrities, rap artists, actors, or minor journalists. There has been a rush of human beings to become a source of data, perspective, leadership, and influence with words…~Chris Hamilton

Now, billions of people every day say things on any social media that they want.

Before we’re saved, the desire to be heard is a sinful desire. Even when we have good intentions, our sin-nature means that the desire to communicate is always self-glorifying at some level. We can’t help it. The utter depravity of man is never more on display than when posted on social media. ~Chris Hamilton

The tongue is a restless evil and a poison.” (James 3:8b).

After salvation, the Bible is clear on right speech and wrong speech, giving over many verses to the subject. A major series of verses are in James 3. Here is Chris Hamilton with 12 ways the Bible says we are to use our tongue-

1.   Confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord. Romans 10:9
2.   Teach God’s word (we all teach in some capacity. Deuteronomy 11:19; Heb 13:7
3.   Speak of God. Psalm 71:8
4.   Preach the Gospel. Matthew 28:20, Romans 10:14, 1 Timothy 4:12
5.   Speak truth. Ephesians 4:25
6.   Building each other up. Ephesians 4:29, 1 Timothy 5:14
7.   Admonish one another (warning using the word of God, not our opinion). Colossians 3:16a
8.   Sing. Colossians 3:16b
9.   Expressing thankfulness. Colossians 3:16c, Ephesians 5:20
10. Pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
11. Confess sin. James 5:16
12. To make a defense and give a hope that is within us. 1 Peter 3:15

God gave us a tongue and told us how to use it, but we are unable to comply without the saving grace of God.

The tongue is a rudder. This is the rudder on our boat. The boat weighed 23,000 pounds. A small shaft running through the rudder and connected to the steering wheel was all that made the yacht go where we wanted.

the boat out of the water, exposing the rudder

As for participation on the internet and social media: it calls for WISDOM.

James 3 goes from a discussion of the tongue straight into wisdom. Think about why that might be for a minute…

This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. (James 3:15-17)

Is our conduct on social media:
pure,
peaceable,
gentle,
reasonable
full of mercy ?

Or is our conduct on social media

earthly,
unspiritual,
demonic ?

At minimum we should be thinking about that before we press send.

As Mr Hamilton preached, And then there is the case of silence. Not speaking. Saying nothing. No words. Silence can be an expression of worship, humility, wisdom, chastening, etc. God did not give us a tongue in order to remain silent. Obviously. No command in scripture says to not use words. But consider our contribution to the internet and whether, in some cases, a response might not be necessary. Silence can reign supreme sometimes. It’s OK. (Ecclesiastes 3:7; Ecclesiastes 5:2; Revelation 8:1).

Silence also protects our own ignorance. Let us (me) not put our own ignorance on display. (Proverbs 10:19).

We can and should remain silent in response to the foolishness and sin of others. (1 Peter 2:21-22, referring to Christ’s trial, where He remained silent). And a case is made to remain silent in the face of conflict. (Proverbs 26:17).

Mr Hamilton was tough on Christian participation in social media. His stance was that using social media to promote the name of Jesus is good and fine, but if we do that, we are entering territory that is teaching. And the scripture says not many of you should become teachers. He is right. He said to his immediate audience, “some of you should stand down.” He is right again.

I thought about it for a long time, and as appropriate, applied the scriptures and the warning to myself. Should I stand down? How is my tongue? I meditated.

On the other hand, we do have this marvelous opportunity to, within our sphere, encourage, lift up, share verses, learn of others’ burdens so we can shoulder them, and so on. I do feel called to teach and I employ that online. (My foremost priority are the real people in my real church life though).

These are some of the stats of the most popular ‘Christian’ teachers online today. Their evil influence reaches millions.

PS: As for my own reach & influence, I am not concerned with the reach or the stats but I’m highly concerned with my content- that it’s accurate and edifying.

With all the false out there masquerading as truth, how can I NOT promote Jesus, share credible ministries, offer true interpretations of the Bible’s words, with every means possible? The world will always love its own. But as long as I have a tongue in my head or an online connection, here I speak, I can do no other.

With the Lord’s help and Chris Hamilton’s words and admonishments ringing in my ears, I pray that as I do speak, it’s pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy. I face a stricter judgment. And that does give one pause.

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