Walking Worthy Online
Communication beyond the face-to-face conversation has always posed an interesting challenge for people. There was a time when, if you did not speak to someone face-to-face, then you would either write a letter or send a verbal message by some type of carrier. After the defeat of Absalom’s army, Joab sent word of their victory by a Cushite runner. Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok also wanted to carry the message to David. After much persuasion, Joab finally consented and Ahimaaz ran with his message. According to the text, Ahimaaz out ran the Cushite, arriving first at the gates of the city (1 Samuel 18:19-32). Much of history is filled with examples of carriers of messages, either spoken or written.
Within the last 250 years, the means whereby messages and letters are carried have changed immensely. In 1794, a non-electric telegraph was invented by Claude Chappe. Chappe used a visual semaphore method of transmitting messages over a line of sight distance using a flag-based alphabet. In 1809, Samuel Soemmering invented a telegraph using 35 wires with electrodes in water. In 1828, inventor Harrison Dyar invented the first telegraph in the United States. This telegraph sent electrical sparks through paper that had been chemically treated, burning dots and dashes on to the paper. In 1835, Samuel Morse, using the newly discovered power of electromagnetism, proved signals could be transmitted by wire. In 1938, Samuel Morse gave a public demonstration of such a transmission by wire. By 1944, a telegraph line had been constructed from Washington to Baltimore. At the same time of the development of the telegraph, a rival technology was under development, also allowing for communication over a long distance. This rival technology would be known as the telephone.
From this point forward, people began to send messages over long distances and talk to friends and family who lived far away. If you learned someone was sick, then you could call them. If you wanted to encourage a brother in Christ, then you could send them a message via telegraph or give them a call. These new technologies made instant, or near instant communication possible.
Let us jump forward in time to 2016. The ability to communicate in real time has grown by leaps and bounds. With the advent of the internet, you can talk to people all over the world with relative ease. No longer do you have to wait days or weeks for a letter to arrive. Gone are the days of expensive phone calls. You can email the person, send an instant message via Facebook (some other social means of communication), or “call” a person with video using programs such as Skype or Google Hangout.
As Christians, there are guidelines which apply to ALL forms of our communication. Whether we are talking on the telephone, quickly responding to an email, updating our various online statuses (such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, KIK, etc.) or quickly responding to someone else’s status, we must always remember to walk worthy of the calling of Christ. Let us consider the following words which the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus:
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)
The instructions seen in this passage, while applicable to our face-to-face association with local brethren, would also apply to all forms of communication. Our communications, as well as our actions, must always be “worthy of the calling with which” we were called. Such a worthy walk is the only way we can be fully pleasing to God. The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Colosse, saying, “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10).
If you are going to talk face-to-face, write a letter, send an email, update your online status or reply to someone else’s online status, then remember the following rules:
Rule #1: Do not lie, tell a “fib”, or intentionally mislead people! Lying is a sin! (Ephesians 4:25)
Rule #2: Do not respond out of haste when you are angry! Responding in a wrong or hurtful way is a sin! (Ephesians 5:26-27)
Rule #3: Do not tear down or belittle another person! Using any type of “corrupt” communication is a sin! (Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 3:8)
Rule #4: Do not be haughty, bragging on yourself, trying to make yourself look good! Such haughty attitudes are sinful! (2 Timothy 3:2-5)
Rule #5: Do not reveal secrets or gossip about other people! Solomon wrote, “A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends” (Proverbs 16:28). The apostle Peter wrote, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters” (1 Peter 4:15). See also Proverbs 11:13, 1 Timothy 5:13, and 2 Thessalonians 3:11.
Rule #6: Do not give approval or support to that which is evil or contrary to God’s law. Sometimes we may be tempted to “like” something that is fundamentally wrong or may contain a position, or even a picture, that is ungodly. The prophet Jeremiah warned Israel saying, “Also I have seen a horrible thing in the prophets of Jerusalem: They commit adultery and walk in lies; They also strengthen the hands of evildoers, So that no one turns back from his wickedness. All of them are like Sodom to Me, And her inhabitants like Gomorrah” (Jeremiah 23:14; cf. Romans 1:18-32).
Rule #7: Do not be a complainer, always sharing your grievances in a public way. Such “drama” is not beneficial. Give remembrance to the apostle Paul’s words to the church in Philippi, saying, “. . . do all things without complaining and disputing” (Philippians 2:12-16).
Rule #8: Do not lose yourself in following the lives of other people. While keeping up with the lives and thoughts of your 400+ Facebook friends, the 200+ people you follow on Twitter, and your various Google+ circles may seem exciting and necessary, bear in might you must keep your priorities straight. Spend time studying God’s word. Spend time with your family. Spend time staying focused on serving the heavenly Father. Avoid turning your social networks into idols within your life. The apostle Paul, while talking about wooden images and stone idols wrote, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14). Let us flee from anything that dominates our lives, keeping us from faithfully serving our heavenly Father.
While Facebook, Twitter, Google +, etc. are glorified forms of simple communication, they do allow you to speak and share information on a much broader scale. As Christians, our participation in these social forms of media must always be governed by God’s word. In your social networking, take the opportunity to share helpful information with those who may follow you or your status updates. Consider sharing helpful tips, Bible passages, invitations to attend the worship services, statements which uphold truth and godly morals, etc. As the apostle Paul wrote, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6).
FINAL WARNING: The danger of social media lies within the ability to quickly “speak” or “respond” without proper forethought and contemplation. Let us always remember to stop and think before we update or post. As James writes, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20). Too many people show themselves to be foolish by not taking the time to think before they post. The next time you engage the social media world, consider first the following proverbs written by Solomon:
- In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise. (Proverbs 10:19)
- The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. (Proverbs 15:2)
- He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. (Proverbs 17:27)
- He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him. (Proverbs 18:13)
- Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles. (Proverbs 21:23)