By Adam Faughn
The Bible has a lot to say about the use of our words. Typically, we think of passages in
the book of Proverbs because that book speaks to our use of words so often. Just a sampling:
• "Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin." (Proverbs 13:3)
• "Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body." (Proverbs 16:24)
• "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits." (Proverbs 18:21)
As you likely know, there are many other verses in that book that speak to the same thing. In fact, if we would all just follow the wise words found in that one book of the Bible, many struggles would never happen or would be far more easily resolved.
There is another verse in Scripture; however, that is my personal favorite when it comes to the use of our words. One reason is because of the word picture it draws, and another reason is that it includes a universal application. I am certainly not perfect at following it, but it is a verse I strive to have in mind at all times.
Writing to Christians and following a verse that concerns how we deal with "outsiders" (that is, non-Christians), Paul wrote, "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person" (Colossians 4:6).
Note the word "always," and, again, note that this verse is (1) to Christians and (2) follows a verse dealing with non-Christians. In other words, "always" in this verse means just that: always. Whether we are speaking, writing, or typing, our words need to be gracious, and they need to be seasoned with salt; that is, they need to be said in a way that is as pleasant to hear as possible.
And, yes, that includes when we are using digital words. Hidden behind our social media accounts, email addresses, and cell phones, it is much
easier to let our standards slide and not really say gracious words. That is not to say that
we avoid saying some things that might be bold or clear. Gracious does not mean "weak"
or "soft." However, it does mean that we need to think of the way our words will appear to others--both Christians and non-Christians--when we type each word.
Just as one example: Some may speak against certain political choices, especially if they feel those choices are immoral. However, is it really gracious to call politicians--who are people with souls--"stupid" or "pathetic" or other similar things?
Examples could be multiplied and include how we talk about celebrities, the church, or anyone else. But the question we need to answer is how this will be perceived. When another person reads a text message, opens an email, or sees a social media post, will they see that it was written in a way that showed as much grace as possible? Even if it says some hard things, will it be seen that there is a clear attempt to make each word as seasoned with salt as possible?
Here are a few questions to ask before you hit "send" or before you post:
1. Does this need to be said at all? Often, the answer is no!
2. Is this the best medium on which to say it? Should this text, instead, be a face-to-face conversation? Is this really something that needs to be published on social media for the world to see?
3. Does each word of this reflect Biblical truth? If not, am I making it clear that this is just opinion?
4. Am I talking about issues, or am I attacking people who have souls?
5. Will sharing this help or hinder me having an opportunity to share the Lord with someone now or later?
We are stewards of all our words, no matter how they are shared. It is easy, using technology, to fall into saying things that should not be said or that should be said very differently. And we must remember that, even if we are very passionate about politics or world affairs or just personal matters, our first goal in life is not to share how we feel about everything with the world. Our first goal in life is to reach all people with the Gospel, and any word we share that could harm that needs to be avoided.
At times, we need to show more grace. At times, we need to season our words with salt.No ... not "at times," but "always."