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20 Scriptures to guide our online speech

May God give us the humility to recognize how our online speech may be out of step with his calling on our lives

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Scripture has a lot to say about how we wield our speech, and those passages are all the more important now that technological advances have greatly multiplied our ways and means of speech. So no, there is no proverb specifically about how to tweet, and we aren’t usually dictating our Facebook posts with our voice, but what we post on these social media platforms does fall under the umbrella of Scripture’s guidance on speech as much as words we literally utter with our mouths.

Below are 20 passages of Scripture to guide our online speech. Let’s consider them as we engage with other image-bearers online:

Is it true? 

The Lord detests lying lips,
but he delights in people who are trustworthy.
– Proverbs 12:22

Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
– Psalm 34:13

Do you need to say it?

Do not 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.
– Ephesians 4:29

Those who guard their lips preserve their lives,
but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.
– Proverbs 13:3

Sin is not ended by multiplying words,
but the prudent hold their tongues.
– Proverbs 10:19

But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.
– Matthew 12:36

Is it helpful?

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
– Colossians 4:5-6

Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
– Proverbs 16:24

Is it quarrelsome?

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
– 1 Peter 3:9

It is to one’s honor to avoid strife,
but every fool is quick to quarrel.
– Proverbs 20:3

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
– James 1:19

With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors,
but through knowledge the righteous escape.
– Proverbs 11:9

The lips of fools bring them strife,
and their mouths invite a beating.
– Proverbs 18:6

Blessings crown the head of the righteous,
but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.
– Proverbs 10:6

What does it say about your heart?

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
– Luke 6:45

Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious,
but fools are consumed by their own lips.
– Ecclesiastes 10:12

The soothing tongue is a tree of life,
but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
– Proverbs 15:4

Does it praise God?

Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.
– James 3:10

My mouth is filled with your praise,
declaring your splendor all day long.
– Psalm 71:8

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
– Psalm 19:14

Conclusion

May God bless you today. And may he graciously give us the humility to hold our digital tongues unless we intend to build up others or point others to his goodness.

A version of this article appeared in Chris Martin’s “Terms of Service” newsletter, which looks at the social internet from a Christian perspective – you can sign up for it at www.TermsOfService.social. Get his new book of the same name at many online retailers. His article is reprinted here with permission.


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3 reasons to praise God for social media

As a default, I tend to call attention to the problems that social media, and our relationship with it, has introduced into our lives. Social media has a grip on our hearts and minds in countless, ever-evolving ways, and it is important for us to keep up with that. So much of it is harming us in ways we don’t see. All of that being true, I think it is also important to also recognize the goodness of God and all that we do enjoy because of the social Internet. It really isn’t all bad! And we do well to be reminded of this. With all of that, here are three reasons I think we can praise God for social media:  1) We can see the work of God around the world Isn’t it amazing that social media has afforded us the opportunity to see the ways God is working around the world? In the days before the Internet, to learn of God’s work in Spain or South Korea or South Africa would have required a personal connection with someone in those parts of the world – perhaps our church sent a missionary abroad or a friend from college chose to serve the Lord in a different part of the world and we joined their mailing list. Today, we can see the amazing work of God around the world by browsing the Internet, joining email lists of missions organizations, or simply engaging with brothers and sisters in Christ on our preferred social media platforms. Sure, an ever-present opportunity to be aware of the work of God in the world can tempt us to be overly-concerned with matters that are out of our control, but what a grace of God to be able to see his hand move across the world in such miraculous ways simply by scrolling on the screens in our hands! God is always at work in every corner of the globe. He is eternally interested in revealing the fullness of his glory so that ever-increasing numbers of people can come into contact with his goodness and trust him as their God rather than themselves. The Internet, and social media in particular, have given us the ability to peek into how God is doing this all around the world in a way no one in history has had before. So cool. 2) We can connect with like-minded followers of Christ As I mentioned above, one of the ways we can learn of the ways God is working around the world is simply by connecting with brothers and sisters in Christ on social media. Of course, one of the saddest effects of the social Internet on Christians is that it enables our desire to meddle, gossip, and wield our virtual tongues in ways that do not honor the Lord. I am guilty of using social media to hurt others with my words, as are most of us, I’m sure. This is a real sin of which we ought to repent, too – hurtful online speech is no less real than in-person hurtful speech. But what an amazing grace of God it is when we use social media to connect with other believers not to debate theology or call into question their faith, but build one another up through encouragement, prayer, and fellowship! I am grateful to God for how social media has acted as a way to keep in touch with brothers and sisters across the world or from past periods of my life when we lived close to one another. And, at the same time, I am grateful for all the relationships the Lord has given me that have almost exclusively taken place through various social internet avenues. There are dozens of brothers and sisters in Christ I have interacted with on Twitter or Facebook or elsewhere that I will not meet until we dine together at the marriage supper of the Lamb. How amazing is that?! Praise God for such an opportunity. 3) We can study the beliefs and culture of all kinds of people. I don’t know about you, but I love learning. I read all kinds of books. I like reading books about U.S. presidents. I like reading books about business moguls like John D. Rockefeller (which I’m reading right now). I like reading books about social media. I like reading books about God’s work in our lives. On top of reading books about all kinds of subjects, I love accidentally falling down what are often called “Wikipedia Rabbit Holes” – maybe you’ve experienced this! You find yourself on one Wikipedia page, then another, then another, and before you know it you’ve wasted an hour! But that time is so often not wasted! Just the other day I was researching some famous criminal who came up in conversation, which then led me to a Wikipedia page about one of the highest security prisons in the world. It was so fascinating! I learned a lot. How cool is it that we can use the Internet to learn? Even more specifically, we can use social media to learn! Social media doesn’t just have to be all about political arguments and funny cat videos. Simply by spending time on social media and interacting with people who are unlike you, you can learn about how different people live, believe, and see the world. Maybe you’ll never make it to India and experience the richness of Indian culture, but if you happen to connect with an Indian person on social media, you could engage in conversation with them about what they believe, what a typical day looks like for them, and learn how their life is different from yours. Social media has afforded us the opportunity to have a much more diverse, well-rounded perspective on the world. Of course, when we engage with people who hold different worldviews or systems of belief, we don’t have to adopt their perspectives, but the more we can learn about other people and perspectives the more we can question our own and grow! If we are intentional, we can really learn a lot by scrolling on social media. It doesn’t have to be all about consumption and entertainment.  Remember to praise God I really try hard to keep up with the ways social media is evolving so that I can write helpful articles that caution us against blindly adopting every new and latest social media trend. We need to be more careful about how we use social media. But cynicism and unhealthy negativity can so easily creep in when I constantly study the harmful effects of social media. It is important to remember to praise God for the goodness He shows us in these small provisions. Any peek we can get into the workings of God in the world is amazing. Praise God for the tools he gives us to see him work and make much of his name. This is reprinted with permission from Chris Martin’s Terms of Service newsletter which looks at the social internet from a Christian perspective. You can sign up to it for free. He has just published his first book, “Terms of Service: the Real Cost of Social Media,” which is available at Amazon.ca and Amazon.com....


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