The growth in the cyber world and the world of the Internet overall has been phenomenal. And on just that point we could discuss the age of technological advances for an extended period of time. We have been blessed (or cursed depending on your point of view) with advancing technology. But my curiosity is in another area, the level of communication and the discretion or lack thereof as it pertains to what we communicate to others. Maybe this blog should be called: “To Post or Not to Post, that is the Question.” But that would be to much Shakespeare for me at this time. I paid my Shakespearean dues dues in high school.
Moving ahead to the topic before us, along with that observation, the line between believers’ exchange of information and that of the world or unbeliever is rather thin. I then looked at family Websites shared by saved and unsaved and the confusion increased even more––differences are not all that unique. So as many other bloggers have done, I join with them to present what I believe is very important for us to consider, a Christian’s approach to the world of technology.
The reason why I call this a cyber commandment is that we have phones and computers where we have the luxury to exchange information, ideas, messages, and pictures. Facebook, Twitter, and other avenues are used to stay in touch, sharing moments sometimes too many TMI (too much info) moments. Times have changed and the change in times should out of our Christian duty examine how we communicate using the cyber world. There must be a clear line separating the called out ones and the unsaved. So some commands (or as one professor would say, sanctified suggestions) may be in order.
So based on how God wants His children to live, we can glean from Scripture and draw ethical commands or guidelines for using technology the right way. We are admonished in the book of I Peter chapter 1 and verse 15 of this, “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” Another translation replaces the word conduct with conversation.
The word for “conduct” is a form of another word that literally means to live in this principle, abide in this way, or to communicate in that manner. It does not matter the format, the place, or the means––all communication is reflective of your conduct and represents or confirms how your manner of life is established or governed.
In the weeks ahead, I will present one commandment with Scriptural support and we will see that God’s word does have guidelines for how His people should communicate to the world. Remember, what you put on paper or online can never be erased or replaced. We have the potential of amassing generation after generation of information that cannot be deleted or quarantined.
Cyber Commandment Number 1 is: “Thou Shalt Edify” (Pardon my King James Version but the Ten Commandments just do not seem right without the “thou shalts” and “shalt nots”). We as God’s vessels, the ones He has called unto Himself; beloved saints, elect of God––yes the ones who have within them His divine nature––we must edify. One of the most important aspects of our life as believers is the responsibility God has granted to us in our speech and the importance of proper use of our words. Along with our actions, our words are identifiers of our relationship with God. What we say speaks to the truth of our faith or detriment by way of our duplicity.
So how can we best edify? The apostle Paul tells us in Colossians 4:6 that our words should always be with grace and I love the next part of that verse and how it describes how it should be prepared: our words should be seasoned with salt. You see, it is easy to let a little joke go by and sneer at it or maybe even laugh at it because it was funny. But we are not just living for ourselves. In fact we should not be living for ourselves at all. The life a believer lives should be a life that exists by faith in Jesus Christ and for the glory of God. What we say, blessing or cursing, encouragement or discouragement, hope or hopelessness, borderline jokes and suggestions, or expressions of the joy of the Lord confirms our identity and the world will judge us by that. They cannot identify with our ‘Christian’ jargon, you know, the seven seals, the 1000 year reign, dispensations of grace and all the other spiritual dialect we can throw at them. Will they be able to affirm that what we say and do consistently reflects who we are or should be in Christ?
The word of God makes it clear, edification is essential: Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” No corrupt word-rotten or worthless words, words void of the quality that is reflective of a believer. This word corrupt is a derivative of a word that means the intent to speak evil; verbally malicious, calculated and cold; ice water in your veins. Another word is the word derelict, meaning you have abandoned the importance of using the right speech and your godly communication is in poor condition. Have you ever
noticed that many believers can talk about everything but God? It may be due to the they have abandoned the good godly tradition of sound speech that cannot be condemned (Titus 2:8). Corrupt, mean, and hurtful words not only hurt others but grieves the Spirit. Many will say, “well I don’t feel bad.” that is because you have accepted the consequences of your words and your conscience may be seared.
The fact that your words are not carefully chosen and are released loosely is indicative of the dominance of the flesh. If that were not the case, the scripture would not align the value of our words with the quality of our faith and walk in the things of God. Titus 2:7, the Apostle Paul tells us that one of the indicators of demonstrating yourself to be a pattern of good works is sound speech: “sound speech that cannot be condemned that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.” The world is not just watching; they are listening to see if what we say lines up with what we are doing.
Again, Colossians 4:6 then is critical to process of preparation as we discipline our speech with what is true of a believer: “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” Let your speech or what proceeds from your mouth; your responses, your conversations, your verbal recitals, your English, your Spanish, your French, your Patwa, your Ebonics, your country (all the southerners); season it, prepare it, process it, refine it. Let us not skip a word here; what is after speech? Always. What is always? Every moment we speak-any given opportunity. Not just on Sundays or at church but every time and in every place and to everyone. That includes your Internet communication.
Your words should be consistent. Did not Jesus Himself tell us in the gospel of John 5, verse 19, He does what the Father does? What we do and say should point to our Master, God and to His Son, Jesus Christ. The word grace in Colossians is the same grace the Apostle Paul mentions in connection with the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, graciousness, especially the divine influence upon the heart. Seasoned with salt speaks of preparation or in the world of the culinary arts, to spice with stimulating condiments- there should be a godly attraction to our words- prepared by God’s divine influence. Salt here actually speaks of prudence in choice, wisely choosing and deciphering whether or not the Holy Spirit and God’s word is at work, or your sinful inclination is influencing your words. This is the same salt that Jesus describes in Mark 9:50 and Luke 14:34. And according to Christ, this salt can look like salt, smell like salt, sound like salt (you know when you shake before pouring), act like salt, but the proof is in the flavor.
So may I ask, what happens when your words are expressed from the container called your mind? When you have no grace and prudence in your speech your words are what Jesus said, ‘good for nothing.’ God has ordained for us to communicate grace and prudence. Therefore we must guard our words, audit our thoughts; be useful for Him always, in every instance, at every moment, every context, and every given opportunity. With God’s word before us and His Holy Spirit within us, let us commend ourselves to edify when we speak, and take advantage of the cyber world by proclaiming truth and sincerity as we reflect the kindness of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Every moment of our day should be given to the glory of God and for the edification of others.