To Christians Who Talk, Type, or Text
Oakwood has a Publix!! Well not exactly, but the food store did recently open within walking distance of the school. (The fact that I am so excited about the opening of a grocery store is either a reflection on Huntsville or a childhood issue I have yet to confront…. either way, there’s reason for concern.)
I was at the cash register, when a magazine caught my eye. There they were. Kanye and Kim West, aka Kimye, on the cover of In Touch Magazine, the kissing cousin of the National Enquirer. The caption read, “It’s Over! Kanye Leaves Kim After Massive Fight.”
Now I have to tell you, I’m not a fan of the Wests, and I am even less a fan of gossip magazines. But a quick glance at other media reveals that the Wests are not only together, they are building an economic empire that could rival a small country. Now all of that could change by next week, but as of today, they are together.
What’s the point? That magazine is trafficking one of the most profitable but destructive commodities in popular culture. Rumor. Gossip. It’s big business. Unfortunately, it’s no stranger to the church. The Adventist church at times seems to be a rumor mill of “Jesuits”, affairs, and apostasies.
Gossip, rumor, and tale-bearing have always been a problem in the church. James 3 makes it clear that the tongue is the single part of our anatomy that is totally beyond our power to control. Of the 6 things that God is said to hate in Proverbs 6, half of them have to do with the tongue.
But destructive words have gone viral in recent years because of the explosion of social media. A piece of gossip or half -truth, traditionally died before it could get across the church. Today those same words can get across the world with the stroke of a key.
We Are Christians On and Off-Line
This is a point that’s easy to forget. We are no less Christian when we type than when we talk. We should be always courageous enough to speak truth to power. There is no shortage of corruption and dysfunction in the church to address. But Ephesians 4:15 instructs us to speak the truth in love. It’s not always what you say, but how, when, and where you say it.
These are 3 basic Christian communication principles that I hope to master some day!
Watch What You Say!
Ephesians 4:29, “Don’t let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Proverbs 17:9, “Whoever covers or forgives an offense seeks love, but whoever repeats or gossips about a matter separates friends.”
Easy to type. Impossible to live- in our own strength. Whenever you talk or type, make it your goal to inform and uplift. There are appropriate times to challenge and protest. Actually, there’s no real growth without conflict. But fight the right way.
Limit What You Say
James 1:26, “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”
The unfortunate truth is that most of us just talk too much. The permanence of what we post on- line makes the problem even worse. Every week we hear another politician, or athlete, or preacher forced to explain words they wrote years, sometimes decades earlier. Generally, the less one says, the better.
Popular society seems to define strength as conquest. Who can talk; cruder, louder, longer, and over the other. Our nation is polarized around issues of race and politics and religion. But Christ reminds us in Mark 10:43, “But it must not be like that among you…” We are held to a different standard.
This week I posted some thoughts about the “Me Too” movement. I’m a strong supporter of the movement, but I was sloppy with some of my comments and they were misunderstood. It was my fault. It reminded me that in some sensitive areas, it’s better to let your actions demonstrate your support than your words.
Do What You Say
As Christians we are agents of transformation. Our limited but well-chosen words must be followed by something even more rare and important. Actions. At times it’s easier to talk the talk than walk the walk. Another reason to be careful what you say.
So, watch what you say, limit what you say, and do what you say. What do you say? Ever been the target of gossip or misinformation? How did you handle it?