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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

When You Want to Answer with a Zinger, What Do You Do?

Oh, the things we want to say! I’m being real, here: there are some posts on social media that just beg you for a smarty reaction . . . or a debate . . . or even a put down. People are pushing your button, and you feel compelled to say . . . “Raspberries!” (I have a friend who used to say, “Peach fuzz!”)

What do you do when this happens? What if you vehemently disagree? What if they offend you? What if you feel the urge to express your unsanctified two cents’ worth?

As Christians, we need to exercise wisdom in our replies. It’s obvious that social media are public platforms. Whatever’s online is out there for the whole world to see. People form an opinion about you from your posts and reactions. It might not be a very complete picture or an accurate one, but you’re curating a personal portfolio, nonetheless.

So, let’s assume you get a post on your feed that begs a "creative" response. 

What should a Christian do?

There are four actions that will help you decide:

1. Pray FIRST. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (James 1:5). Ask the Lord to guide your thoughts to the right response, if one is needed at all.

2. Sometimes the best response—the wisest one—is not to answer at all.
  • My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit (Job 27:4).
  • Should a wise man utter vain knowledge, and fill his belly with the east wind? (Job 15:2) The obvious answer is no. (On a humorous note, this is where the term “wind bag” comes from!)
  • In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise (Proverbs 10:19).
  • Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him (Proverbs 26:4).
  • For it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people (Acts 23:5b).
  • Speak not evil one of another, brethren (James 4:11a).
3. There are also times when you need to speak up. It’s right to speak the Word of God without shame (if we do it in love, not using the Bible out of context or as a weapon.)
  • I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed (Psalm 119:46).
  • To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (Isaiah 8:20).
  • For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard (Acts 4:20).
  • But he (Paul) said, I . . . speak forth the words of truth and soberness (Acts 26:25).
4. We must love others in our speech. If we speak out of anger or any other motivation, it’s useless.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1).

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit,

but the profit of many, that they may be saved (1 Corinthians 10:31-33).

I really love this admonition! Since it covers everything we do and our treatment of everyone, I think it can be applied to social media. Notice how it ends—wanting others to be saved. Is this our main motivation? 

May we keep the gospel of Jesus and love for souls foremost in our mind, hearts, and words.


  1. I was encouraged by reading that Elisabeth Elliot struggled with the same thing. In writing about meekness, she said, "But how shall I, not born with the smallest shred of that quality, I who love victory by argument and put-down, ever learn that holy meekness?" If I am really stirred up by something I see on the Internet, most often the best thing is to wait and pray and then see if God wants me to say anything. Sometimes my original answer was the right one, but if written immediately it would have been in much the wrong tone. And sometimes it's best just to leave it alone.

    1. Thank you, Barbara, for sharing the Elisabeth Elliot quotation! I loved what you said, as well. So true!


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