I have opinions. Religious. Relational. Political. Personal. Often I’m asked what I think about something. Even this morning, a colleague sent a message asking for my opinion. It’s not like he didn’t know what he thought about the thing, he just wanted to know what I thought. For the most part, I keep my personal opinions to myself. My friends know my quirks and hang ups. They know the pet peeves and most all of my idiosyncrasies. It took a while to let them see it (I suppose that’s a defense mechanism) but ultimately I keep my opinions close to the vest. But you don’t have to look very far to find out what people think about most things. From the food we eat, to the doctor that was late to their appointment, we’ve put everything out there for all to see. We’re sharing our lives and on the surface, I think it’s good. I’ve always been one to embrace culture. I like gadgets and find technology to be one of man’s greatest inventions. But I also think it’s killing us. Not quickly but subtly…slowly.
There is immense bravery behind the keyboard; I’ve fallen victim to it, too. It’s the modern version of gossip. The new, “speak before you think” kind of thing. I found some verses about this.
- ‘Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.’ – James 1:19 (NLT)
- ‘Don’t jump to conclusions – there may be a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw.’ – Proverbs 25:8 (MSG)
- ‘There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.’ – Proverbs 29:20 (NLT)
I think many of us could use a lesson in restraint. I know I need it.
Before you send that email, write that text or push post on your social media page, think about the triple filter test. Socrates had a method of deciphering whether something was worthy of further discussion. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.
Is it true? Is what I’m about to say true? If not, stop. Don’t do anything more. Move on with your day. If it’s true, go to the next step.
Is it good? I mean, does this news tear someone down? Look, we’ve all heard bad news before but if it’s being shared for the sake of spreading bad news….then stop. If it’s good then move to the next step.
Is it useful? For our purposes let me state it like this, “Will this news be useful to the Kingdom of God?” If not, stop. If so, share freely.
Let me be clear, this is not to say we don’t stand up for our convictions. Silence in the face of injustice is cowardice.
I just took a break to look at all my social media feeds. Weeding through the mess, I’m reading honest and brave posts about life and love. This is beautiful. It makes me hopeful. I believe that we can share and live in this social media world as resurrected people; with the power of resurrection in our mouths, we can speak life into others.
So, go outside, look your neighbors in the eye and seek to understand them. When we do this, we are fulfilling a great commandment. Not too shabby, huh? The whole “doing the work of the gospel” thing. It’s liberating.
Let’s practice restraint together. Let’s share our hearts honestly and seek to bring wholeness to a world that is divided. Let’s not wade in the muddy water. I can tell you what made that water muddy. And for the record, this world has been divided since before you were born. It’s not a new problem. We just have quicker access to it.
Your friend on the journey.
Matt Hastings lives with his wife Keri and their five children in Tullahoma, Tennessee. He is the pastor of the Estill Springs Church of the Nazarene. [Editor’s Note: Matt has graciously allowed us to republish his weekly email devotionals on our site for our readers.]