Sticks and Stones…
Liable and slander have never been easier. Liable is the written character assassination of a person, while slander accomplishes the same end result via the tongue. The creation of Social Media, (Facebooking and Tweeting) as well as Emails, Instant Messaging and Texting have made unsubstantiated and vicious attacks the preferred tool of many who live the unexamined and unaccountable life! The complexity of these contemporary forms of communicating is that it takes place in real time with no time to interrogate the truth and consequences of what we are saying or doing. A toxic thought becomes a posted statement of fact on the World Wide Web within seconds of the offense. No consideration is often given to such questions as, Is it true? Is it appropriate to present as public domain? Is this statement going to promote healing or further harm? And, Is this how I would really communicate my thoughts if I had taken the time to pray, reflect, interrogate my own reality, and allow time to balance my emotions?!
During the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, Richard Jewel was accused of planting a bomb in a populated area. It was later determined that he was innocent. Unfortunately, his entire life was altered and defined by this inaccurate and unsubstantiated accusation. The power of life and death is in the tongue! How many of us are carrying a weapon without a license? The weapon may be a smart phone that is not used so wisely. It can be something as simple as a word spoken that separates friends. Proverbs 16:28 says, A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends. James informs us that the tongue is unruly, filled with poison, and set on fire of hell (James 3:6-8). We are all of seven digits away of corrupting our sphere of influence with toxic words about another.
Scripture reminds us in Matthew 12:36 that each of us will give an account for our words: But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. This includes words that are spoken, texted, or released into our social network. Perhaps this is a great season to be slow to anger, quick to listen and even slower to speak (James1:19)!!! Regardless of what a person does to you in your perception or even in reality, there is no biblical position for attacking them in the court of public opinion. I have made it a practice that even if a person attacks me or impugns my character or motives, I will not react or respond. Once a person goes in to the attack mode, they are not interested in truth, they are interested in being right or destroying the object of their wrath. The majority of accusations and attacks that we make are generally made on incomplete information, or simply based on bearing the offense of another.
In our Christian communities we often defame another under the cover of prayer, concern, or a disclaimer that we are sure they do not realize this horrible, godless thing they are doing. We ought to join King David in his prayer for God to put a watch on his lips and a guard over his tongue (Psalm 141:3). Words really do matter. We will be justified and condemned by our words (Matthew 12:37). God created the world and universe with His words. What are you creating with yours?! Words need to be interrogated before communicated to an individual, let alone the world of the web. The question is not necessarily, Is this disclosure true that I am about to post or text? but rather, Is it the right spirit, the right timing, and the right audience? My prayer for each of us comes from the heart of the Psalmist who says, Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14).