Questions to Ask

In this day of instant social media access, where anyone can express their thoughts and opinions regardless of merit or even truthfulness we are being inundated with questionable information.

A piece of sage advice that has been suggested before you decide to speak or send your post into the stratosphere where it will live forever is: Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?

As far as I have been able to determine, the original version of this quote by Bernard Meltzer, a radio personality was: Before you speak ask yourself if what you are going to say is true, is kind, is necessary, is helpful. If the answer is no, maybe what you are about to say should be left unsaid.

Either way, the advice is worth following.

Too many times, I have wished that I had run my comments through this filter before I spoke or hit the Post button.

For Christians there are other questions that we need to ask before we express our thoughts and opinions, either verbally or in writing.

1. Is what I am going to say in agreement with the teachings of scripture?

Passages such as Philippians 1:27 come into play here. Only let your conduct (includes social media posts) be worthy of the gospel of Christ. One commentator put it this way: “Believers are to have integrity, i.e. to live consistent with what they believe.” If it doesn’t line up with the Bible, maybe what you are about to say should be left unsaid.

2. Will I be able to share the gospel with that person after I say/write it?

What affect will your statement have on your ability to share Jesus with another person, who may stand on the other side of an issue from you? You can express your opinion, but too many times in the process of expressing our opinions we demean the person we disagree with. Calling people names or using derogatory language runs contrary to Biblical statements such as, Let your speech always be with grace (Colossians 4:6).

3. Will people think that I’m a Christian after they hear or read my words?

Another way to ask this question is: How will it affect my testimony? Words are powerful things – James equates them to a raging forest fire. People rightly judge us by what we say or write and make certain assumptions based on our words and the tone of our words. You can destroy your testimony with one careless, critical, cutting statement, post or tweet.

4. Will what I say advance the Kingdom of God or not?

Life is not about advancing your political position or party. It’s about the Kingdom of God. You might not agree with me here, but God is not a Democrat or Republican. He’s not pro-BLM or anti-BLM. He’s not liberal or conservative. His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). And neither is yours or mine. We belong to a heavenly kingdom and we need to make sure that our words are advancing that Kingdom.

You can be politically involved just remember that His Kingdom is the one that sets the standards for our lives.

The issue is not just about our words – it’s about our words in the context of our faith. If your words or FB Posts are not guided by and reflect a Biblical faith then your faith is not what it should be.

Stay in the Word,
Pastor Steve

How Much Depends on You?

As much as depends on you. That’s an interesting phrase. It comes from Romans 12:18 that says: If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

How does this statement fit into our pandemically driven, racially divided, finger pointing, polarized world?

More to the point, how does this statement fit into your daily life – say for example, your social media posts? (I am addressing mainly white American Christians).

How does it guide you as you express your opposition to wearing masks that you think are useless, or to the requirements put in place by your Governor that you feel are excessive? How does it guide you as you comment on the racial divide in our country that you don’t think exists, or to the slogan Black Lives Matter that you understand in a different way than Black Lives understand it?

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

If it is possible is not a convenient escape clause. In fact, it may not mean what we have always thought it meant. The old English theologian, J. B. Phillips translated it as: As far as your responsibility goes. In other words, your only responsibility is to live in peace with everyone around you. It’s not to make them happy or, in the context, to pass judgment on them. It’s just to live in peace with them. That is the Christian’s duty.

As much as depends on you does not get you off the hook. Most of our actions depend on us. Yes, there may be exceptions. Sometimes you just can’t please everyone. There will be those rare times when you can’t do anything to please the other person. But most of the time we have control over what we do. Mostly it does depend on you.

Live peaceably means to keep life calm and serene. A lot of our social media posts have just the opposite effect. They don’t promote peace.

With all men doesn’t allow for exceptions. All includes those on the opposite side of the issue. Christians have a responsibility to do all they can to bring about a calm and serene society, even for and with people they strongly disagree.

We have a duty to promote an atmosphere of calmness and serenity in a world of unrest and upheaval and, according to the following verses, leave the rest up to God.

Social Media Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others have given all of us, including Christians, the ability to spread our feelings and (often unfiltered) thoughts far and wide. Unfortunately, we have often chosen anger and hostility over peace.

We forget that we are not like other people. We answer to a higher authority. We have a greater responsibility. We have a divine duty in this world. We represent the highest and greatest kingdom ever to exist.

So, as far as your responsibility goes, promote peace, even with those who promote hatred and anger.

Stay in the Word,
Pastor Steve