When Three Fingers Are Pointing Back At You
I had this friend on Facebook a few years ago who got an intense amount of joy out of ticking every one off with his controversial Facebook posts. He would argue incessantly with people, saying all kinds of inflammatory things, offended everything, never seeming to really care who he hurt.
And then I posted something on my Facebook page that he disagreed with.
You see, we had pretty divergent opinions regarding our favorite football teams--as in, he couldn't stand my team and the feeling was reciprocated on my part toward his. So the guy started attacking me online, and we had this virtual argument right there on my Facebook page for everyone and their brother to see.
Finally, the guy posted this comment, and it absolutely infuriated me. He wrote, "I can't believe you call yourself a pastor, and post things like this."
I'd had enough then. I thought about all of the mean-spirited and awful things this guy regularly posted online, and that he dared to call himself a Christian, to boot. So, I deleted the post where we were arguing with all of the comments. Then I unfriended the guy, blocked him from my Facebook page, and generally eradicated him from my online world. It felt awesome--for about a day or two.
It was a passage of Scripture that did me in, to be honest. I remembered a verse or two from Ephesians chapter 4 where the Apostle Paul wrote,
"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." (Eph 4:29)
It also hit me that I had been judging that guy from afar for a very long time, and then here I was acting just like him. He was also right about the whole pastor thing, too. Like it or not, I am held to a higher standard by some people.
But then again, anyone who is open about being a Christian invites a fair amount of scrutiny from people who aren't, so we're all kind of in the same boat.
I sent the guy a message after I got convicted over my behavior. I apologized, asked for his forgiveness, and told him that I was going to work hard to be a positive witness on my Facebook page from that day forward.
He never responded. I suppose he just wanted to be angry. I'll never know, I guess. But I do know that I tried, despite the fact he didn't want to accept my repentance, and extend any grace. I also kept my promise to him. I do my very best to maintain a positive online presence if at all possible.
That verse from Ephesians is one that I am struck by over and again. I want to live into the hope of that verse to say "only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs..." I don't always get it right, but I'm working on it. I think that's all that we can do sometimes.
May you find ways to speak grace and peace into the lives of those around you. May you guard your tongue or your fingers as you type, and consider how what you are saying/writing might be a blessing or a curse, and choose the right one. May your speech reflect the grace of God through Jesus Christ that is yours to have and to hold.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.