Admittedly, I was resistant at first. I didn’t get the whole point of sending a text to someone. Why revert to archaic communication of sending written words when I can just call? To me texting was a kind of modern day telegraph. I thought the whole point of cell phones was that I can talk to somebody right now if I want to. If I need to say something to my kids or if my wife needs to say something to me, just call me on your cell phone. That’s why you have them, right? Well, that didn’t last long. Like many of you, I find myself reading texts and sending texts all the time, thousands of them in a month. My kids have now advanced to other social media apps leaving me in the “texting was so 2015" world.
Only nerds and people familiar with Area 51 knew what email was prior to AOL. Unfamiliar with AOL? It stands for America Online and was the avenue for how most of us entered the world of the internet and email back in the 1990s. Most of us who were online had an email address that ended in @aol.com. Email became a great way to connect with past friends, exchange pictures with family almost instantly without a trip to Walgreens and a postage stamp, and a means to interact with people in ways never before possible. It was all good until we discovered the dark side of electronic communication.
I thank the Lord for the gift of electronic communication. But like all of God’s gifts to humanity, we quickly find ways to use them to serve our flesh. Email, Snapchats, texts, Instagram photos exchanged between family members, friends, and Christian brothers and sisters can be sources of great joy. They also can be sources of significant sin. When electronic communication becomes the means by which parties engage in relational matters, the potential for fleshy exchanges soars. Electronic communication simply cannot and should not be our means of airing grievances, expressing hurts, making judgments, or venting feelings. It is so easy to say things in electronic format that we would never say to someone’s face. It is so easy for the recipient to read into the lines of text something that was not intended. We can hide behind keyboards in cyber-anonymity feeling good that we sent a salvo destined for someone’s three inch by five inch screen. We can ignore someone’s electronic communication and never deal with issues. I find it hard to accept that our Lord’s instructions for solving problems in Matthew 18 or Luke 17 or Paul’s words in Galatians 6 can be accomplished in electronic format.
Social media has only magnified both the opportunities for good and the potential of the flesh. A Twitter tweet or a Facebook status update can bring glory to God and be good for people or bring shame to the name of Christ and damage once sweet relationships.
Therefore, I want to make some pastoral suggestions to you about using electronic communication in your relationships.
- Do use electronic communication to say I love you, I’m thinking of you, or I’m praying for you. Do not use electronic communication to say I hate you, I don’t want to see you ever again, or I want nothing to do with you.
- Do use electronic communication to express thanks. Do not use electronic communication to express a complaint, to vent feelings, or manipulate the reader.
- Do use electronic communication to share God’s blessings on your life.Do not use electronic communication to convey your grievances about how you have been treated by the recipient or others.
- Do use electronic communication to affirm in another. Do not use electronic communication to accuse another.
- Do use electronic communication to arrange times to meet for the purpose of developing relationships or mending relationships. Do not use electronic communication in the place of face-to-face meetings that develop relationships or mend relationships.
I suppose the list of suggested do’s and don’ts could continue for a while, but you get the point. Let’s allow the Scriptures to control this area of our communication as well. The Bible says, Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, o Lord, my strength and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14). That, of course, includes my electronic words and thoughts.
As always I welcome your feedback and any ideas you might have for an upcoming Lunchtime Musing.