It used to be easier to keep quiet.
To mind the old adage, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
At least it was for me. In fact, for years I never said a thing. Especially not if I thought it would so much as ruffle a feather.
People would talk and talk and inside my brain I would disagree with every word. But I never spoke up. A combination of shyness and a penchant for people-pleasing kept my lips zipped up tight.
In some ways, this digital world of ours has opened incredible new avenues. It’s a great place for introverts like me to express ourselves and feel like we can actually have a voice. And social media is a great way for friends and family to stay in touch, wish each other “happy birthday,” or share in the joy that is a funny cat video.
But the internet and social media have their downsides. And by this point, I’m sure we’re all aware of what they are.
Everybody has an opinion.
Everybody has a platform.
Everybody has an audience.
Problem is, when we’re typing into a screen, we sometimes forget that there are real human beings on the receiving end.
I’m just as guilty as anybody. I posted something on my Facebook page a few weeks ago that I thought was hilarious, and in doing so I inadvertently hurt a few people’s feelings. I didn’t mean to and I apologized for it.
But when I posted it I didn’t think twice.
You don’t have to scroll too far through your Facebook feed to see opinions of all kinds, with everybody sharing what they believe to be truth.
Or funny cat videos.
It’s one of the perks of being an American. We have the freedom to believe whatever we want and to publicly speak our minds about it.
But what disturbs me is how so many who call themselves Christ-followers are speaking their minds, telling the truth as they see it–but doing it in a manner completely void of love and compassion.
There’s a phrase from scripture, Ephesians 4:15 to be exact, that Christians toss around frequently:
“Speaking the truth in love”
The phrase gets thrown out there in the same way that “love the sinner, hate the sin” does.
We use it as an excuse.
If we feel we have a right to say something, to call another person out, to speak loudly and boldly about what we believe, we tend to excuse ourselves by saying, “I’m just speaking the truth in love.”
But that begs the question. . . are you? Are you really speaking truth and are you really speaking it in love?
I’m asking myself the same thing.
Because from all the stuff I’m seeing and hearing — not from non-believers but from Christians — I have to wonder.
Speaking the truth in love (on Facebook)
I had to unfriend somebody on Facebook over the weekend. I can’t remember the last time I felt the need to do so, but this “friend,” a person I knew through a church singles group I attended years ago, became quite vocal about “speaking the truth” on my personal Facebook page.
Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I actually welcome and encourage healthy, respectful debate. I have many friends and family members who disagree with me about all kinds of things. And it’s fine.
Not only that, but I think it’s IMPORTANT to have discussions, to speak our minds in a civil manner, to recognize that we are all human and we all have different backgrounds and opinions and that we don’t HAVE to agree about everything. Facebook can be a great venue for that.
Especially as Christians, it’s crucial to understand that it’s Christ who connects us. When we are united in Him, the lesser matters of our differing opinions fade into the background. As they should.
When engaging in discussions and debates with other Christians, the number one truth to remember is that we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
But that’s not what happened with this “friend.”
Instead, he resorted to name calling and implications that perhaps I was not a true believer at all.
He spoke what he believed the truth to be. I cannot fault him for that.
But in no way, shape, or form did he do it with love.
I gave him the benefit of the doubt. After all, this wasn’t some random blog troll. This was someone I knew. My brother in Christ.
And when he realized how his words had stung, instead of apologizing, he called me a hypocrite.
Christians, we are treading on thin ice here in this world of tweets that can never be taken back and Facebook posts that are seen by thousands.
It is important to stand for truth, but may I add a disclaimer from the Apostle Paul?
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
—1 Corinthians 13:1-2
You see, it doesn’t matter what we believe or what we preach. If we don’t have love in our hearts when we say it, then what we say is useless. It accomplishes absolutely nothing.
And often times, we communicate the complete opposite of what we intended to say.
Speaking Christian “truth” without love actually turns people away from the good news. In droves.
If you’re a Christian who’s feeling persecuted right now, like people always misunderstand you and get angry with you for what seems like no reason at all. . . well, it might do you some good to examine your motives.
Maybe it’s not persecution at all. Perhaps it’s just that other people don’t care to be around people who act like jerks.
Yes, Christians are called to speak the truth in love.
But love is a tall order. One we like to give lip service to but are much stingier with than we care to admit.
Just a few verses before Paul tells believers to “speak the truth in love,” he has this to say:
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
And a little later this:
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. . . Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
–Ephesians 4:29, 31-32
So here’s a little tip that could just benefit us all.
Remember that thing we used to do as kids where somebody would add “in bed” to the end of every sentence?
You know like, “She’s really talented!” (“In bed!”) Or “He always ruins everything!” (“In bed!”)
And so on?
(Yeah, not sure why we always thought that was so funny.)
But here’s the new adult version. For every scripture you read, I want you to add “on Facebook” to the end of it.
So it would go something like this:
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths (on Facebook)”
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger. . . (on Facebook)”
Be kind and compassionate to one another. . . (on Facebook)”
Be completely humble and gentle. . . (on Facebook)”
People, I’m thinking this might just be the revelation we need!
Will you join me? Will you think twice before posting that next rant? Let’s do this together.
Let’s start loving more and speaking less.
Then maybe the truth we do speak might actually mean something.