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24-hour news cycles on cable television. Blogs and podcasts. Facebook live. Twitter feeds. Even the “Coosa News.” We are bombarded with so many people and their thoughts and opinions about every subject.
In many respects, this is a part of the American way, where we experience a relatively high degree of freedom of expression. And, in many respects, we should be grateful for this privilege as it is not enjoyed in many parts of the globe.
However, the nature of this piece is not necessarily about the numerous venues to express your thoughts and opinions. I am certain that more opportunities for our expression will develop in the coming years. The question for consideration today is not where we speak, but what are we speaking.
Here’s the truth: there should be a marked difference in how we communicate as believers.
Paul, writing to both the Ephesian and Colossian churches, makes this principle clear. In Ephesians, Paul says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
Simply put, we should speak good things. Anything that causes injury or dissension in the body of Christ is rotten. Instead, followers of Jesus are called to use words that build up people instead of tearing them down. We should be people of encouragement.
Somehow, so many people have missed that point. We have allowed the screen and keyboard, or the camera, to provide cover for our tone and tenor of communication. And instead of being people of encouragement, many “Christians” on social media have taken the position of chief correction officers – telling everyone else about their wrongs.
While Twitter was not in Paul’s mind when he wrote to the Ephesians, it was not outside of the omniscient nature of God whose Spirit inspired Paul to write. As someone once told me, “It’s not just what you say, but how you say it.” And for many of us, both need significant retooling and adjustment.
Among believers, there are varying opinions related to a number of matters in our society and culture. And in many regards, social and public spaces may be a place to have those discussions. However, when we do so from a position of pomp, arrogance and lacking civility, grace and common courtesy, we are spewing sewage from our mouths.
How we speak to one another, whether face to face or in the social media feed and comment section, matters. And as believers, our speech must “always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6).
Notice in both Paul’s address to the Ephesians and the Colossians that he makes note of the need for grace in their speech. Believers, recipients of God’s grace, we should represent that same grace in our character and conduct, in our walk as well as our talk.
Our speech should be “seasoned with salt,” attractive, wholesome, and wisely suited. Our conversation should be distinctively Christian.
If many of us were honest, dependent on the topic, our speech is not salt seasoned – wisdom-filled and gracious – but is spice seasoned – meant to burn those who disagree. We talk to win, not to communicate. Among believers, this shouldn’t be.
What point is it to “win” if what you say brings others down in the process? Truth must be love saturated, wholesome and wise.
In our current day; whether with our mouths, our keyboards, or our smart devices; we could use more kind words.
Christopher M. Todd is a Coosa County resident and the pastor of The New Home Missionary Baptist Church near Rockford.