Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Luke 6:45
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.Philippians 4:8
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.Ephesians 4:29
We know these verses.
We might have taught them to our kids or have them framed in our home. We clung to them when the Lord rescued us from gossip or slander a few years ago or from cussing incessantly after we became a believer. Oh, just me? That's ok.
But this is what I want to talk about today.
Our exceptions to these verses.
Because we all have them.
Our husbands, our REALLY close friends, our REALLY bad days. In those situations, all ties to these verses - our devotion to righteous speech fly out the window. When we've truly been wronged or frustrated or let down. When we're hungry or when we're tired.
We break our rules.
But here is something else I've found, with myself and others. The ultimate rule breaker: THE INTERNET. There is something about typing something instead of saying it, that makes it seem innocuous or anonymous or fleeting. And it truly isn't. It speaks discouragement, death, malice, anger, frustration, complaint, and offense into the world when you could be speaking life, encouragement, peace, reconciliation, or beauty.
So when the Lord started pricking my heart about this, I paid attention to myself and my words. Here are some things I had to ponder:
- What was I trying to accomplish by complaining, proclaiming, or venting?
- If my children complained as frequently as myself & my twitter followers did, what would I say to them? When my children are hurt, frustrated, sad, discouraged, or mad - I do not encourage them to sit a circle and discuss it, to egg one another on it.
- If I'm "venting" about some sort of hurt, even if doing it anonymously - is it really innocuous? Doesn't Matthew 5 tell us that when we are angry in our hearts, it's the same as murder? What if we're producing that feeling in others by allowing them to side with us?
- Do my complaints lead others to stumble because they'd be overjoyed to have my burdens? Complaining about our homes, meals, cars, children, husbands, etc. can be crazy discouraging for people who don't have those.
And this is all not to say I think I, or we, as women need to be senselessly fake or overly positive on the internet. I think that would be disingenuous and probably just as damaging to present a false picture. And I think that there is so much profit in emailing some girlfriends for prayer, tweeting a piece of scripture in a time of discouragement, and calling your online community to come around you or aid you in all types of hardship.
I just think, sadly, that's rarely my first motive.
Usually, I just want to complain.
I got to hear my wonderful brother-in-law preach this past week and he made such a good point about when people die nowadays. Now, when people die unexpectantly, we rush to their facebook page. So we have that legacy to consider now. If today, you went to be with Jesus, would you want your legacy to be a complaint about the heat or an almost-murderous statement about your landlord or even a grumble about something that you're incredibly blessed to have to begin with.
And as all other issues of righteousness - cleaning this up for the sake of our image or to feel cleaner is just stupid. But the point is, when we're grumbling and sinful in our hearts - we're not glorifying Him. And we feel gross. And it speaks all sorts of grossness into other peoples lives INSTANTLY. If you have 300 twitter followers and 600 facebook friends, how quickly can you speak death across the world. So quickly. With that much influence (or more or less), how quickly could you bring Him glory? Bless His name? Encouraged another believer?
So in all things, grace, ya'll.
I'm praising God for His grace as I cringe thinking of the internet-complaining I've done.
And I'm asking for wisdom to walk forward in this (maybe larger than) 1% change:
Speak life only on the internet.
Speak life only on the internet.
And I think the heart of the issue is not just cleaning up what I put out in the world, but paying attention to why it's there in the first place.
Because it's only the overflow of what's in the heart anyhow.