Continuing to clear out my notes of things I’ve meant to get around to, here’s two articles on how we should interact on the ‘net if we are Christians. First:
When it comes to the things we say on the internet, are we content to judge the sins of others without really considering how much our lust for attention, our pride and self-righteousness are coming in to play in our pontificating and posturing?
From God, Gossip, and Internet Discussion Boards, by Pastor Don Johnson writing at Proclaim & Defend.
Second, I’m sometimes disappointed by things from The Gospel Coalition. However, in late August, Dr Bryan Chapell wrote something that was excellent in many respects, taking the Scripture in the form of a machete and slicing through the overgrown jungle of unbiblical speech that inhabits Christian websites.
The judgment of charity binds us not only to tell the truth but also to seek to interpret other’s statements and actions in the best light (Mt 7:12; 1 Cor 13:6-7). We are also obligated to protect the reputations of others against slander, innuendo, false implication, and even the damage to truth caused by inappropriate silence (Zech 8:16; Prv 17:15; 1 Tm 6:4; 2 Tm 4:16).
The Bible does not allow us to publish what we think is true if we cannot prove it.
For example, if we cannot prove the motive for an action, then we cannot publish speculations or assertions about motive without being guilty of spreading unsubstantiated gossip.
Secular law will not allow the distributing information (even if it can be proven true) that damages without purpose—and neither will Scripture.
Respectful communication is driven by the awareness that our comments and critiques are always directed toward those made in the image of God (Gn 1:26-27; Jas 3:9).
There is a lot more. If you ever participate in on-line discussion, I hope you will read and consider these articles.
Dr Chapell has given us a very, very thorough Biblical treatment of how we should engage in these discussions and used the hammer of Scripture to pulverise many of the sorry excuses people use for ungodly behaviour. I found his article very challenging. He tells us what the Scripture says about how we should be behave.
Pastor Johnson’s article is an excellent companion to it because he challenges us to think about the heart issues that often lead us to violate those Scriptural principles. Although I am sure these were written independently (Pastor Johnson’s article preceded the other by five days), they fit together beautifully.
Somewhat related previous posts:
Sound and Fury
Scorching the Truth
What WWW Means
A Thought for Internet Discussions
A Thousand More Words on Internet (and other) Communications
A Proverb for Today — Proverbs 6:16-19
A Proverb for Today — Proverbs 10:19
A Proverb for Today — Proverbs 18:13
Very good post. I keep a blog and have, at times, fallen prey to this very thing. I have had to retract posts, apologize and look at my own motives. Proclaiming the Gospel, and even exposing sin, can be done, should be done in a way that edifies the Body, lifts up Christ and beckons us all closer to His side. Thanks for the article.
Thanks, Matt. The Internet can be a very useful tool, but as with any other powerful tool, it is dangerous when misused — at least as dangerous to the user as to others.
Thanks for the link and the kind words, Jon.
My article is partly the result of my disgust with the carrying on at certain Christian sites, but also hopefully a reflection on my own carrying on in the past. The temptation to be first and to be fast on the internet is very powerful. I have made a lot of mistakes … scratch that… I have sinned in this way a good deal in the past. I hope that I am growing in grace enough to be more temperate in my speech. There are issues we must speak to strongly. But we must let our speech be seasoned with salt, as Paul says (Col 4.6).
Anyway, this is a drum that we need to keep beating, among many others. On this subject, one would hope moderators of Christian fora would actually moderate them, instead of joining the fray.
Hi, Don. Good thoughts. It’s easy to get disgusted at what others do. It’s wise, when that happens, to examine myself. After all, if all things work together for good to conform me to the image of His Son, then the behaviour of others, even their bad behaviour, is something the Lord wants to use to accomplish that purpose in me. So in light of what I’m seeing, how do I need to change?
Interesting that you say it is a drum we need to keep beating, at times I’ve wondered if I’m beating it too much, given the list of links at the bottom of the post. 🙂
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I really appreciate this post… thank you so much.
I’m glad you found it helpful. May the Lord bless as you seek to follow Him.