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